Stocks cheer Fed; best 2 days of 2014 for Dow, S&P

U.S. stocks surged on Thursday, extending Wall Street’s best day of the year, after the Federal Reserve said it would be patient in increasing interest rates.

“The reality is markets were hit with we’re not sure what’s happening and why, as oil has been acting as something akin to a global interest rate. The good news is the Fed is aware of what is going on, and they want to be friendly, so people are hopefully in better cheer,” said Jack Caffrey, equity portfolio manager at J.P. Morgan.

“Seasonally it’s a time of good flows into equities. If anything, seasonally the behavior over the last two weeks was an anomaly,” said Caffrey of the market’s recent slide.

The CBOE Volatility Index, a measure of investor uncertainty, fell 8.7 percent to 17.74.

Thursday data had jobless claims falling by 6,000 to 289,000 last week, the lowest since early November.

And, the Conference Board’s index of leading indicators advanced in November for a third consecutive month, signalling the U.S. economy is picking up steam heading into the new year.

Oracle rallied after the software marker reported fiscal second-quarter profit and sales that exceeded estimates; Hertz Global Holdings jumped after investor Carl Icahn reported hiking his stake in the car-rental company.

DJIA Dow Jones Industrial Average 17778.27 421.40 2.43%
S&P 500 S&P 500 Index 2061.21 48.32 2.40%
NASDAQ Nasdaq Composite Index 4748.40 104.08 2.24%

After a 338-point leap, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was lately up 333.97 points, or 1.9 percent, at 17,690.84, with Microsoft and International Business Machines leading blue-chip gains that included all 30 components.

The S&P 500 advanced 38.02 points, or 1.9 percent, to 2,050.92, with technology leading gains and all 10 of its major sectors rising.

The Nasdaq added 85.80 points, or 1.8 percent, to 4,730.12.

For every share falling, four rose on the New York Stock Exchange, were 594 million shares traded as of 3:10 p.m. Eastern. Composite volume surpassed 3.5 billion.

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

The U.S. dollar gained against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners and the yield on the 10-year note used to figure mortgage rates and other consumer loans gained 7 basis points to 2.2095 percent.

After rising to $58.73 a barrel, West Texas Intermediate turned lower, losing $2.36, or 4.2 percent, to $54.11 a barrel. Gold futures for February delivery added 30 cents to $1,194.80 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

American motorists are paying less than $2.50 a gallon at the pump for the first time in more than five years, with retail gasoline prices falling to an average $2.477 a gallon Wednesday night, according to the AAA.