Stocks opened higher Wednesday, kicking off December with gains after ending November on a down note due to worries over the omicron variant of the coronavirus and a hawkish pivot by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 279 points, or 0.8%, at 34,762, while the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.29% gained 1.1% to 4,614.85. The Nasdaq Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.59% was up 1.2% at 15,721.83. Powell will deliver a second day of testimony before lawmakers on Wednesday. Powell on Tuesday said it would be appropriate for the Fed to consider speeding up the wind-down of its monthly asset purchases when policy makers meet later this month.