Stock markets surged on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said it would exercise patience in raising interest rates. The Dow industrials closed almost 300 points higher, the benchmark index's best session so far this year.
Closing out a two-day meeting to discuss the economy, the Fed left the door open to raise borrowing costs in 2015, but said it would be "patient" about doing so and that it would keep rates near zero for a "considerable time." Fed chair Janet Yellen, in her last news conference of the year, said the Fed would be motivated by the strength of economic data and not by the calendar.
"The Fed is sending the message that the broader U.S. economy is on the path toward healing," said Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities. "They don't know how fast it will heal, but it's on the mend."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average unofficially ended up 288.06 points, or 1.69 percent, at 17,356.93.
The S&P 500 added 40.14 points, or 2.03 percent, to 2,012.87. The Nasdaq gained 96.48, or 2.12 percent, to close at 4644.31.
-- NBC News Staff, CNBC and The Associated Press