All three major U.S. stock indexes ended up more than 1 percent,
with eight of the 10 S&P 500 sector indexes closing higher. Internet
and biotech stocks were among the day's biggest gainers.
Fed policymakers were unanimous in wanting to ditch the thresholds
they had been using to telegraph a policy tightening, according to
minutes of a meeting last month that shed little new light on what
might prompt an eventual interest-rate rise.
"People are taking solace in the idea that the Fed may be more
accommodative than previously thought, for longer than previously
thought," said Steve Sosnick, equity-risk manager at Timber
Hill/Interactive Brokers Group in Greenwich, Connecticut.
"That's giving the lift to stocks."
Alcoa Inc <AA.N> shot up 3.8 percent to end at $13. The stock ranked
as one of the S&P 500's best performers after the aluminum
producer's earnings, excluding restructuring charges and other
special items, exceeded analysts' expectations.
S&P 500 companies' first-quarter earnings are projected to have
increased just 1 percent from a year ago, Thomson Reuters data
showed, down sharply from the start of the year, when profit growth
was estimated at 6.5 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 181.04 points or 1.11
percent, to end at 16,437.18. The S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 20.22 points
or 1.09 percent, to finish at 1,872.18. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC>
added 70.914 points or 1.72 percent, to close at 4,183.90.
U.S. stocks had advanced in the previous session to snap a three-day
losing streak as investors bought beaten-down social media and
Despite the three-day selloff, the benchmark S&P 500 index <.SPX>
managed on Tuesday to hold above its 50-day moving average around
1,840, a key support level. The index has successfully defended the
1,840 area several times over the past month.
In Wednesday's regular session, the S&P 500 swung from a session
high of 1,872.43, just a notch above its closing level, to an
intraday low at 1,852.38.
The Nasdaq biotechnology index <.NBI> rose 4.1 percent to close at
2,455.83 on Wednesday, while the Global X social media index <SOCL.O>
gained 3.3 percent to end at 19.11.
"In recent days, in general, large-caps outperformed small-caps, and
low-beta companies outperformed those with higher betas," U.S. Bank
Wealth Management's equity research team said in a note to clients.
[to top of second column]
Low beta refers to less volatile stocks that also offer less
"While investor sentiment remains fragile, we continue to maintain a
constructive outlook for equities, believing that the path of least
resistance is still up."
In the latest snapshot of the economy, Commerce Department data
showed that U.S. wholesale inventories rose at a slower pace of 0.5
percent in February, in line with expectations, after a revised gain
of 0.8 percent in January, which could support views that restocking
did not help the economy in the first quarter.
Going against the day's sharp advance, shares of Intuitive Surgical
Inc <ISRG.O> slid 6.8 percent to close at $456.64 after the company
estimated first-quarter revenue well below analysts' expectations
mainly due to a 60 percent drop in sales of its flagship da Vinci
Shares of Blackstone-backed hotel chain La Quinta Holdings Inc <LQ.N>
made a subdued market debut as investors took the view that the
stock was fully priced in a crowded IPO market. The stock closed up
0.7 percent at $17.12.
About 6.3 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the
6.9 billion average so far this month, according to data from BATS Global
Advancers outnumbered decliners on the New York Stock Exchange by a
ratio of 11 to 4, while on the Nasdaq, three stocks rose for every
one that fell.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Nick Zieminski and Jan
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