* Minutes: Fed officials unanimous in changing rates
* Major indexes hit session highs following Fed minutes
* Dow up 1.1 pct; S&P 500 up 1.1 pct; Nasdaq up 1.7 pct
(Updates to close)
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, April 9 U.S. stocks rallied on
Wednesday after minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest policy
meeting showed a more supportive central bank than investors had
All three major U.S. stock indexes ended up more than 1
percent, with eight of the 10 S&P 500 sector indexes closing
higher. Internet and biotech stocks were among the day's biggest
Fed policymakers were unanimous in wanting to ditch the
thresholds they had been using to telegraph a policy tightening,
according to minutes of a meeting last month that shed little
new light on what might prompt an eventual interest-rate rise.
"People are taking solace in the idea that the Fed may be
more accommodative than previously thought, for longer than
previously thought," said Steve Sosnick, equity-risk manager at
Timber Hill/Interactive Brokers Group in Greenwich, Connecticut.
"That's giving the lift to stocks."
Alcoa Inc shot up 3.8 percent to end at $13. The
stock ranked as one of the S&P 500's best performers after the
aluminum producer's earnings, excluding restructuring charges
and other special items, exceeded analysts' expectations.
S&P 500 companies' first-quarter earnings are projected to
have increased just 1 percent from a year ago, Thomson Reuters
data showed, down sharply from the start of the year, when
profit growth was estimated at 6.5 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 181.04 points
or 1.11 percent, to end at 16,437.18. The S&P 500 gained
20.22 points or 1.09 percent, to finish at 1,872.18. The Nasdaq
Composite added 70.914 points or 1.72 percent, to close
U.S. stocks had advanced in the previous session to snap a
three-day losing streak as investors bought beaten-down social
media and Internet shares.
Despite the three-day selloff, the benchmark S&P 500 index
managed on Tuesday to hold above its 50-day moving
average around 1,840, a key support level. The index has
successfully defended the 1,840 area several times over the past
In Wednesday's regular session, the S&P 500 swung from a
session high of 1,872.43, just a notch above its closing level,
to an intraday low at 1,852.38.
The Nasdaq biotechnology index rose 4.1 percent to
close at 2,455.83 on Wednesday, while the Global X social media
index gained 3.3 percent to end at 19.11.
"In recent days, in general, large-caps outperformed
small-caps, and low-beta companies outperformed those with
higher betas," U.S. Bank Wealth Management's equity research
team said in a note to clients.
Low beta refers to less volatile stocks that also offer less
"While investor sentiment remains fragile, we continue to
maintain a constructive outlook for equities, believing that the
path of least resistance is still up."
In the latest snapshot of the economy, Commerce Department
data showed that U.S. wholesale inventories rose at a slower
pace of 0.5 percent in February, in line with expectations,
after a revised gain of 0.8 percent in January, which could
support views that restocking did not help the economy in the
Going against the day's sharp advance, shares of Intuitive
Surgical Inc slid 6.8 percent to close at $456.64 after
the company estimated first-quarter revenue well below analysts'
expectations mainly due to a 60 percent drop in sales of its
flagship da Vinci robot system.
Shares of Blackstone-backed hotel chain La Quinta Holdings
Inc made a subdued market debut as investors took the
view that the stock was fully priced in a crowded IPO market.
The stock closed up 0.7 percent at $17.12.
About 6.3 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges,
below the 6.9 billion average so far this month, according to
data from BATS Global Markets.
Advancers outnumbered decliners on the New York Stock
Exchange by a ratio of 11 to 4, while on the Nasdaq, three
stocks rose for every one that fell.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Jan