U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, with the Dow ending at a record and the S&P 500 back above 2,000, after the Federal Reserve said it was nearing the end of its asset purchases and reiterated it would not hike interest rates for a 'considerable' period.
"Basically not much change in Fed policy; they'll only move when they are very comfortable that conditions have improved significantly. The overall path for policy that they've been on continues to be a path they are comfortable with," said Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones.
In its statement released after its two-day meeting, the Fed left largely intact key provisions and cut its bond buying down to $15 billion a month, while indicating the asset purchases would end altogether in October.
In a news conference in the wake of the Fed policy decision, Fed Chair Janet Yellen reiterated there continued to be "significant under-utilization" in the labor force, with inflation running below the Fed's objectives.
"It's ridiculous that we're back in this mode of worrying about every Fed word out there. For long-term investors, we know rates are going to rise, so let's start positioning for that, rather than worrying about whether rates rise in May or June," said James Liu, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds.
"As investors shift their focus away from the Fed and back to fundamentals, it will continue to drive stocks higher because they (fundamentals) are in fact improving," said Warne at Edward Jones.
The rose 2.59 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,001.57, with materials faring best and energy the worst performing of its 10 major sectors.
FedEx rose after the shipper reported first-quarter earnings that topped estimates; Lennar also gained as the home builder posted quarterly earnings and revenue above expectations, and General Mills fell after the food producer tallied earnings and revenue below estimates. Auxilium Pharmaceuticals rallied a day after the drug developer drew an unsolicited bid from Endo International.
The Nasdaq climbed 9.43 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,562.19.
The CBOE Volatility Index, a measure of investor uncertainty, dropped 0.9 percent to 12.61.
Advancers remained a step ahead of decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, where 668 million shares traded. Composite volume approached 3.2 billion.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures dropped 80 cents to $1,235.90 an ounce, oil futures dropped 46 cents to end at $94.42 a barrel.
The dollar turned higher against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note used to figure mortgage rates and other consumer loans fluctuated, lately up 2 basis points at 2.615 percent.
The Consumer Price Index declined 0.2 percent last month, while prices excluding food and energy costs held unchanged.
"The CPI certain doesn't add a lot of enthusiasm for tightening. If I were Yellen, I'd like to see very solid evidence of either real growth or some inflation before we start turning the dial," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank.
Other economic data Wednesday had a measure of confidence among home builders rose to its highest level since 2005.
On Tuesday, U.S. stocks jumped, lifting the Dow industrials to a record, as oil and other commodities surged on a report that China's central bank would increase stimulus and on the view that the Federal Reserve would not rush to hike rates.
—By CNBC's Kate Gibson
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