Markets Higher as Fed Holds Steady on Rates

Markets Reuters

Stock markets around the world edged higher on Wednesday after the U.S. Federal Reserve renewed a pledge to keep interest rates near zero for a "considerable time," as had been expected.

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On Wall Street, stocks moved moderately higher following release of the Fed's latest policy statement.

While the statement largely came in as anticipated, it erased recent concerns that rate hikes would come more quickly than had been anticipated. Many investors were concerned that the "considerable time" language would be dropped from the statement.

"There are no major changes, and the market should be reasonably satisfied with that," said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at Phoenix Financial Services in New York. "I don't think (Fed Chair Janet) Yellen wants to become more hawkish given that we've seen some softening in the labor market."

Trading was driven by a report that China's central bank would provide the country's big lenders with fresh funds. Uncertainty also continued around Thursday's Scottish independence referendum, which most polls suggest is too close to predict.

In afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 56.90 points, or 0.33 percent, at 17,188.87. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 8.62 points, or 0.43 percent, at 2,007.60. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 24.02 points, or 0.53 percent, at 4,576.78.

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The MSCI International ACWI Price Index rose 0.3 percent while an index of top European shares ended up 0.4 percent.

Shares in Shanghai closed up 0.5 percent while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index finished up 1 percent, boosted by reports that the People's Bank of China would provide $81.5 billion in short-term funding to the country's top five banks.

The dollar index rose 0.2 percent to 84.23 and the euro fell 0.3 percent to $1.2918.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose 2/32 in price to yield 2.5816 percent.

In commodities trading, copper futures rose 0.4 percent, aided by the Chinese report. Gold fell 0.3 percent while silver was down 0.4 percent.

Brent crude futures slipped 0.04 percent to $99.01 per barrel while U.S. crude futures lost 0.5 percent to $94.42 a barrel, declining after a jump of nearly 3 percent over the previous two sessions. 

(Reporting by Rayan Vlastelica; Editing by Dan Grebler and Leslie Adler)