US STOCKS-Wall St extends gains as Fed leaves stimulus in place
* Federal Reserve sticks to stimulus in statement * Cyprus banking crisis a reminder of global risks * Homebuilders' stocks jump after Lennar earnings * Dow up 0.5 pct; S&P 500 up 0.7 pct; Nasdaq up 0.8 pct By Caroline Valetkevitch NEW YORK, March 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks added to gains after the Federal Reserve said it was pressing forward with aggressive efforts to stimulate the economy. In their statement, Fed officials said unemployment remains too high and noted "restrictive" fiscal policy. "I wasn't expecting a lot from the Fed, in terms of the statement or actions. We've had a volatile week. The Fed was not going to want to rock the boat much," said Paul Zemsky, head of asset allocation at ING Investment Management in New York. "It would be too destabilizing in a time we've just had a destabilizing European effect." Cypriot leaders held crisis talks on Wednesday to avoid a financial meltdown after the country's parliament rejected a tax on bank deposits proposed over the weekend by European Union officials. Investors fear a collapse of the banking system in Cyprus will tighten credit across Europe and become another hurdle in the region's bumpy road out of economic crisis. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 69.47 points, or 0.48 percent, at 14,525.20. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 11.06 points, or 0.71 percent, at 1,559.40. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 24.47 points, or 0.76 percent, at 3,253.57. After the Fed's statement, the Dow set an intraday record high at 14,546.82 - surpassing a previous record session high reached before the policy decision was released. The housing sector's stocks ranked among the best performers after Lennar Corp reported a first-quarter profit well above analysts' expectations as lower interest rates and rising rents increased home sales. Lennar's stock jumped 5.7 percent to $43.78. The PHLX housing sector index shot up 3 percent.
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