NEW YORK - U.S. stocks edged higher on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve released its policy announcement, leaving interest rates unchanged.
In its announcement, the U.S. central bank expressed a confident economic outlook, saying that activity had expanded at a moderate rate and that inflation was nearing its 2-percent target. The Fed unanimously decided to keep its lending rate in a target range of between 1.50 percent and 1.75 percent. It is expected to increase rates in June.
The Fed's announcement assuaged investors' concerns about the possibility of accelerated interest-rate increases as rising materials costs for companies have signalled a pickup in inflation.
"I'd call what the market is doing a sigh of relief because we didn't get an unexpected hike," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 38.48 points, or 0.16 percent, to 24,137.53, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 1.63 points, or 0.06 percent, to 2,656.43 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 29.18 points, or 0.41 percent, to 7,159.88.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.61-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.11-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 13 new 52-week highs and 19 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 74 new highs and 40 new lows.