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Stocks rose sharply on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged and said it will be "patient" with raising rates moving forward. Strong earnings from Boeing and Apple also boosted the market.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 434.90 points higher at 25,014.86, as Boeing and Apple outperformed. Wednesday also marked the Dow's first close above 25,000 since Dec. 4. The S&P 500 gained 1.56 percent, led by the tech and consumer discretionary sectors. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 2.2 percent to 7,183.08.
"It seems like the Fed is becoming more market dependent rather than data dependent," said Jack Ablin, founding partner of Cresset Wealth. "The market has become accustomed to below fair-value interest rates and trying to raise them is creating hardship. Accommodation is the new neutral."
In a statement, the central bank said: "The Committee will be patient as it determines what future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate may be appropriate." The statement also dropped the word "gradual."
The Fed addressed the balance sheet, which had been a concern for investors, in a separate statement. The Fed said it "is prepared to adjust any of the details for completing balance sheet normalization in light of economic and financial developments."
"This was a pretty dramatic change from what they were saying in December, even though it's not unexpected," said James Kahn, chairman of the economics department at Yeshiva University. "They basically went from saying we're going to continue raising rates into 2019 to not saying one way or the other what they're going to do."
"For a six-week time gap, that's unusual," Kahn said.Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images Jerome Powell, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, speaks during a news conference following a Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said in a news conference that the case for hiking rates "has weakened," noting he would "need to see a need for further rate hikes." The S&P 500 posted on Wednesday its first positive close on a Fed decision under Powell's tenure, data from Bespoke Investment Group show.
The S&P 500 is up 6.95 percent this month, which ends on Thursday. In December, the S&P 500 briefly dipped into bear-market territory on an intraday basis, trading 20 percent below an all-time high set in September. The S&P 500 has surged more than 13 percent since Dec. 24.