The S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended higher on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve gave a rosier assessment of the U.S. economy while reaffirming that it is in no hurry to raise interest rates.
The U.S. central bank also, as expected, reduced its monthly asset purchases to $25 billion from $35 billion.
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Among the biggest positives were bank shares, with the S&P financial index <.SPSY> up 0.4 percent, helping to support the S&P 500. Shares of Wells Fargo
"We got the taper as expected, and the real viewpoint of the committee is they can keep monetary policy accommodative even after we reach our inflation and employment goals," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.
Biotechnology stocks boosted the Nasdaq for a second straight day. The Nasdaq biotech index <.NBI> was up 1 percent after Amgen Inc
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 31.75 points, or 0.19 percent, to 16,880.36, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 0.12 points, or 0.01 percent, to 1,970.07, and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 20.20 points, or 0.45 percent, to 4,462.90.
The S&P 500 had traded lower ahead of the Fed announcement.
Earlier Wednesday, government data showed gross domestic product grew at a 4 percent annualized rate in the second quarter, above the 3 percent rate that had been expected and a sharp reversal from the weather-impacted first quarter, when the economy contracted a revised 2.1 percent.
Separately, the ADP National Employment Report showed companies hired 218,000 workers in July, below analysts' projections of 230,000 and less than June's total.
Among other big gainers, Twitter Inc
Insurance stocks fell after Humana Inc
Humana fell 5.6 percent to $120.34, WellPoint lost 0.1 percent to $112.47 and Aflac slid 2.8 percent to $61.38. UnitedHealth
About 6.2 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, above the 5.6 billion average for the month to date, according to data from BATS Global Markets.
(By Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Leslie Adler)