Fred Dickson, chief investment strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co. in Portland, Oregon, described the economy as moving "grudgingly ahead." But sustained growth can't come, he said, until the government gives businesses a better idea of what to expect in the way of financial, health care, labor and energy rules.
"Businesses seem to be suffering from a severe case of 'what's-next-itis' paralysis," Dickson said.
Japan, trying to spur its own economy with a central bank bond-buying program, saw its benchmark Nikkei 225 index jump nearly 3 percent, extending Friday's gain of about 2 percent. Japan's market has also been ricocheted by investors trying to guess the future of its central bank's stimulus actions. Monday's gains were driven by a drop in the value of the yen, which makes Japan's exports cheaper and more competitive. The Nikkei is still down 15 percent since the day before Bernanke's testimony.
In other U.S. stock trading, the Dow rose 109.67 points, or 0.7 percent, to 15,179.85. The Nasdaq composite rose 28.58, or 0.8 percent, to 3,452.13.
The price of crude oil rose throughout the day, but ended 8 cents lower at $97.77 a barrel in New York. Gold edged down $4.50 to $1,383.10 an ounce.
Among U.S. stocks making big moves:
—Pinnacle Entertainment, a casino and racetrack operator, jumped more than 4 percent after it moved closer to regulatory approval for its purchase of Ameristar Casinos. Pinnacle rose 79 cents to $19.64. Ameristar rose 19 cents, less than 1 percent, to $26.39.
—Johnson & Johnson rose 72 cents, less than 1 percent, to $85.63, after saying it would buy Aragon Pharmaceuticals, a private company focused on drugs for hormonally-driven cancers.
—Boeing was up after Qatar Airways and the aircraft leasing arm of General Electric put in an orders for aircraft. Boeing rose $1.20, or 1.2 percent, to $103.03.
—Google rose $11.21, or 1.3 percent, to $886.25, after resolving a shareholder lawsuit that had blocked a stock split. That means it will avoid a scheduled Delaware Chancery Court trial that could have cast it in an unflattering light.