* Industrials, materials sectors climb more than 1 pct
* Fed more confident in need to raise rates - minutes
* Dow up 0.88 pct, S&P 500 up 0.87 pct, Nasdaq up 1.18 pct (Updates to mid-afternoon, changes byline)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
Feb 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced on Wednesday, with the Dow and S&P 500 on track for their seventh gain in eight sessions, buoyed by stocks in economically sensitive areas such as industrials and technology.
After the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged in January, minutes of that meeting released on Wednesday showed the central bank’s rate-setting committee grew more confident in the need to keep raising rates, with most believing that inflation would perk up.
“There was not a whole lot of surprise in the grand scheme of things. It lined up with market expectations for a continued gradual pace in interest rate hikes,” said Michael Skordeles, U.S. macro strategist at Suntrust Advisory Services in Atlanta.
“The fact that there wasn’t a big surprise or revelation was likely calming to the market.”
Expectations for a quarter-point hike at the Fed’s next meeting in March are currently 93.5 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. The central bank has forecast three rate hikes in 2018.
Since inflation worries knocked the S&P 500 down more than 10 percent from its Jan. 26 high, stocks have rebounded in recent sessions as yields on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note have stabilized around the 2.9 percent mark.
As inflation concerns have ebbed, names likely to benefit from synchronized global growth have come into favor. Industrials, up 1.45 percent, were the best performing on the 11 major S&P sectors on Wednesday. Materials stocks climbed 1.13 percent.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 218.69 points, or 0.88 percent, to 25,183.44, the S&P 500 gained 23.55 points, or 0.87 percent, to 2,739.81 and the Nasdaq Composite added 85.66 points, or 1.18 percent, to 7,319.97.
The prospect of higher rates and an unexpected fall in January U.S. existing home sales dented the real estate sector, off 0.54 percent.
Qualcomm shed 0.52 percent after Broadcom lowered its takeover offer for the chipmaker. The revised offer comes in the wake of Qualcomm’s sweetened bid for NXP Semiconductors.
Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 9/32 in price to yield 2.9262 percent, from 2.893 percent late on Tuesday.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 3.15-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.30-to-1 ratio favored advancers. (Additional reporting by April Joyner)