* Fed cuts 2014 growth forecast, still confident about
* Amazon CEO Bezos unveils "Fire" smartphone; stock climbs
* FedEx shares hit all-time high after quarterly profit
* Dow up 0.1 pct; S&P 500 up 0.3 pct; Nasdaq up 0.1 pct
(Updates with Fed minutes)
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, June 18 U.S. stocks edged higher on
Wednesday after the Federal Reserve hinted at a slightly faster
pace of interest-rate increases starting next year, but
suggested that rates in the long run would be lower than the
central bank had previously indicated.
The Fed, after a two-day policy meeting, slashed its
forecast for U.S. economic growth this year but expressed
confidence that the recovery was largely on track. The U.S.
central bank cut the 2014 economic growth forecast to a range of
between 2.1 percent and 2.3 percent from around 2.9 percent. The
Fed also cut its monthly bond purchases to $35 billion a month,
a reduction of $10 billion, as widely expected, in connection
with its plans to wind down one of its main stimulus programs by
the end of the year.
"The decision confirms that a steady-as-she-goes Federal
Reserve will complete its quantitative easing exit later this
year, but still have to rely more on forward policy guidance due
to remaining growth and jobs challenges," said Mohamed El-Erian,
chief economic adviser at Allianz SE in Newport Beach,
"Remaining growth and jobs challenges involve achieving
economic lift-off that materially reduces long-term
unemployment," El-Erian added.
The three major U.S. stock indexes, which had traded flat
for most of the day, edged slightly higher following the Fed
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 17.16 points or
0.10 percent, to 16,825.65. The S&P 500 gained 5.17
points or 0.27 percent, to 1,947.16. The Nasdaq Composite
added 3.31 points or 0.08 percent, to 4,340.55.
The benchmark S&P 500 index has risen 0.6 percent over the
previous three sessions as investors largely shrugged off
mounting tensions in Iraq and focused on a flurry of merger and
acquisition activity and better-than-anticipated manufacturing
Among the biggest gainers was FedEx Corp, which rose
5.5 percent to $148 after hitting an all-time intraday high of
$148.15 after the world's No. 2 package delivery reported a
better-than-expected rise in quarterly revenue. The gains helped
push the Dow Jones Transportation average up 1.1 percent.
Amazon.com Inc shares jumped 2.5 percent to $333.80
after its Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos unveiled a "Fire"
smartphone with free, unlimited photo storage, jumping into a
crowded field dominated by Apple Inc and Samsung
Adobe Systems shares shot up 7.6 percent to $72.67.
The stock was the S&P 500's best performer a day after the maker
of Photoshop and Acrobat software reported better-than-expected
quarterly profit and revenue.
But the stock of ConAgra Foods slid 7.5 percent to
$30.39 after the maker of Hunt's tomato ketchup and Slim Jim
beef jerky said its adjusted fourth-quarter profit would be
lower than expected.
On the political front, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid said he does not support sending any U.S. troops into the
conflict in Iraq. He described the fighting in Iraq as a "civil
war" on Wednesday ahead of a meeting with President Barack Obama
about the escalating crisis.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; Additional reporting by Jennifer
Ablan; Editing by Jan Paschal)