Stocks rose on Monday as a broker upgrade for three credit card companies offset jitters that interest rates might rise sooner than expected and as investors awaited comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Bernanke is scheduled to speak at the Economic Club of Washington at 12:45 p.m., and investors will be keen for insight as to how the Fed might unwind its economic stimulus efforts following Friday's jobs report that showed employers cut far fewer jobs than expected in November.

American Express Co rose 1.5 percent to $39.90 after Bank of America-Merrill Lynch upgraded the stock to neutral from underperform. The brokerage also raised Capital One Financial Corp , which gained 1 percent to $38.30, and Discover Financial Services , up 3.5 percent to $15.71.

Keeping interest rates near zero has been part of the Fed's efforts to thaw credit markets and pull the economy out of recession. Investors are wary the central bank will raise rates before the economic recovery has been firmly established.

Good news is going to become bad news for the market because one of the pillars that this rally has been built on -- zero interest rates -- is now under review and in all likelihood is going to change, said Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Equity Markets in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Stocks also drifted as investors pared positions heading into the end of the year and moved into other assets, including the U.S. dollar. The dollar was trading flat against a basket of currencies after earlier hitting a five-week high.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 46.63 points, or 0.45 percent, to 10,435.53. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> climbed 4.54 points, or 0.41 percent, to 1,110.52. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 6.21 points, or 0.28 percent, to 2,200.56.

(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)