Dow Climbs 180 Points on Signs Fed Will Keep Interest Rates Low

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Stocks soared on Wednesday, with the Dow adding 180 points, after minutes from the Federal Reserve's last session offset concern about when the central bank would raise interest rates.

Fed policymakers decided that even after employment and inflation are nearly back to normal levels, short-term rates may need to stay unusually low for a while because the economy isn't fully healthy.

Members of the Federal Open Market Committee agreed unanimously in March that a 6.5 percent unemployment target for raising interest rates was out of date and should be removed. Investors had been intensely following the Fed's guidance on interest rates. A short-term rate increase would elevate borrowing costs and could hurt stock prices.

After release of the minutes, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed and ended the session unofficially 181 points, or 1,1 percent higher. The S&P 500 jumped 20 points and the Nasdaq rose 70 points, or 1.7 percent.

The U.S. dollar edged lower, while the cost of crude rose, with futures for May delivery up $1.04 to $103.60 a barrel. Gold futures for June delivery shed $3.20, to $1,305.50 an ounce

Shares of Alcoa gained 3.75 percent after the aluminum producer kicked off the earnings season on Tuesday with first-quarter profit that beat Wall Street estimates and projected demand for the metal would top output this year.

On Tuesday, stocks rose with the Nasdaq bouncing back from its worst three-day hit since 2011.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)