Stocks moved higher after the U.S. Federal Reserve held interest rates steady, and indicated fewer hikes were likely this year than previously expected. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Stocks celebrated after the Fed released its policy statement, confirming expectations it would hold rates steady, and that moderate U.S. economic growth and strong job gains would allow it to resume raising rates later this year, despite risks from an uncertain global economy. Manhattan Venture Partners' Chief Economist Max Wolff: (SOUNDBITE) MAX WOLFF, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MANHATTAN VENTURE PARTNERS, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It's sort of a goldilocks report if you don't look too deep, and, so far, the market hasn't." Ahead of the Fed's announcement - new data showing underlying consumer inflation increased more than expected in February, with rents and medical costs continuing their rise. Other data showed the housing market continuing to strengthen, with housing starts up 5.2 percent in February, lifting its annual pace to the highest level in five months. Oil prices jumped, with light sweet crude surging six percent, after major producers firmed up plans to meet in Qatar to discuss an output freeze and U.S. crude stockpiles grew less than expected. A third report showed industrial production fell half a percent. But on an encouraging note, manufacturing output rose, suggesting the downturn in that sector had probably run its course. Chipotle stock lost ground. The company warned it will post its first quarterly loss as a public company. Oracle shares to the upside, after the enterprise software company reported better-than-expected results after the bell on Tuesday. Stocks in Europe, looking to the U.S. and the Fed decision, traded in a narrow range.