Bernanke was positive, but cautious, in assessing the U.S. economy in remarks at the American Economic Association's annual meeting in Philadelphia.
"The headwinds I have mentioned may now be abating," he said. "The aftereffects of the housing bust also appear to have waned."
The Dow picked up 28.64 points, or 0.17 percent, to close at 16,469.99.
The S&P 500 lost 11.16 points, or 0.27 percent, to settle at 1,831.37.
The Nasdaq slipped to 2,458.77, off 1.55 points, or 0.06 percent.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 2.76 billion shares were traded, with 1,995 issues advancing and 1,106 declining.
In Europe, London's FTSE 100 gained 12.76 points, or 0.19 percent, to close at 6,730.67.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed at 16.291.31 points, up 122.37, or 0.69 points.
The 10-year U.S. treasury was yielding 2.997 percent, losing 1/32.
The euro traded lower at $1.3591 and the dollar was lower against the yen at 104.82 yen.
Gold added $13.40 to settle at $1,238.60 an ounce Friday on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Silver added 8 cents to reach $20.21.
Crude oil was off $1.25 at $94.19 per barrel.
On the Chicago Board of Trade March corn gained 3 cents to $4.23 1/2 a bushel, soybeans added 2 cents to $12.72 and wheat soared 9 3/4 cents to $6.06 3/4.