US stocks : Dow off 0.02 pct
His comments followed the Federal Reserve's announcement of a new stimulus plan, which briefly pushed the S&P 500 to a seven-week high.
The plan, the latest attempt to boost the country's struggling economy, will replace a more modest program set to expire with a fresh round of Treasury purchases that will increase its balance sheet. The program is known as "quantitative easing" or QE.
In comments after the announcement, Bernanke said he hopes that markets won't have to tank to get a fiscal cliff deal.
"Initially the addition of QE was certainly favorable. I think, though, in the press conference, what came out is that there still seems to be a level of uncertainty with regard to the exit strategy (and) the efficacy of the current policy," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
Bernanke "reiterated the fact that monetary policy has its hands tied as far as addressing the seriousness of going over the fiscal cliff," Hellwig added.
The S&P financial sector index, which had been up more than 1 percent after the Fed's announcement, ended up just 0.5 percent.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc's stock was the biggest drag on the Dow, falling 2.8 percent to $68.94 following the Indian government's announcement of an inquiry into the company's lobbying practices.
The Dow Jones industrial average slipped
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