US stocks extend gains after Fed statement

New York, March 18 (IANS) US stocks ticked up as investors assessed the US Federal Reserve’s policy announcement as well as oil recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 155.73 points, or 0.90 percent, to 17,481.49 on Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The S&P 500 gained 13.37 points, or 0.66 percent, to 2,040.59. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 11.01 points, or 0.23 percent, to 4,774.98.

The Fed kept its benchmark short-term interest rates unchanged on Wednesday as expected, noting that “global economic and financial developments continue to pose risks” to the US economy.

“I am wary and have not yet concluded that we have seen a significant uptick that will be lasting,” said Fed Chair Janet Yellen, at a press conference following the two-day policy meeting.

Many analysts said the stock markets would witness more volatility in the coming months, as Wall Street speculates on the Fed’s next move.

The Fed’s updated projections showed that policymakers expected the federal funds rate to rise to around 0.9 percent at the end of 2016, implying two quarter-percentage-point rate increases this year, down from four estimated in December.

Investors were also encouraged by a strong rebound in oil prices. Oil prices continued to rise Thursday, with US oil hitting $40 a barrel for the first time in 2016, as traders believed that major producers will strike an output freeze deal next month.

On the economic front, in the week ending March 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 265,000, an increase of 7,000 from the previous week’s revised level, the US Labor Department announced Thursday.

Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange bounced back strongly on Thursday as the US dollar slumped after the dovish announcement of the Fed policy meeting.

The most active gold contract for April delivery rose $35.2, or 2.86 percent, to settle at $1,265 per ounce.

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