NEW YORK -- The stock market rose Wednesday after the Federal Reserve told investors to expect low interest rates for a while yet, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average to a record high.
After drifting along for most of the day, stocks marched higher after the U.S. central bank released a statement signaling little change in its interest rate policy. The gains were broad, with seven of the 10 industry groups of the Standard & Poor's 500 index ended up, led by materials stocks.
The Fed statement put to rest an anxious waiting game among investors that has left the S&P 500 moving between small gains and losses for a week. A rise in the short-term rates that the Fed controls has triggered stock drops in the past.
"The Fed is not going to take the punch bowl away," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial. "They didn't want to spook the market."
In its statement, the central bank retained language in that it plans to keep short-term rates low "for a considerable time" after it ends its monthly bond purchases in November. For many investors, that meant the first hike won't come until the middle of next year.
The Dow (^DJI) rose 24.88 points, or 0.2 percent, to end at 17,156.85 - its 16th record high this year. The S&P 500 (^GPSC) edged up 2.59 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,001.57, falling short of its own closing high of 2,007.71 from Sept. 5. The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) was up 9.43 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,562.19, still well below its dot-com era peak.
Shares of home builders jumped after builder confidence in the market for new homes rose to its highest level in nearly nine years. Miami-based Lennar (LEN) rose nearly 6 percent, the most in the S&P 500 index.
In economic news, U.S. consumer prices edged down in August, the first monthly drop since the spring of 2013, as gasoline, airline tickets and clothing prices all fell. It was the latest evidence that inflation remains under control, one of the factors the Fed uses in its decisions on rates.
DuPont (DD) surged $3.42 to $69.25, or 5.2 percent, the biggest gain in the Dow by far. Investors bought the stock on news that activist investor Nelson Peltz had sent a letter to the company's board suggesting it split in two. His Trian Fund Management LP said it has been in private talks with DuPont for more than a year to boost shareholder value and improve its financial performance.
Gold, which was flat minutes before the Fed news on interest rates, ended down 80 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $1,235.90 an ounce. Silver rose 1.3 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $18.73 an ounce. Copper fell 2.3 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $3.14 a pound.
In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged up to 2.62 percent, from 2.59 percent late Tuesday. The yield has moved between a high of 3 percent and a low of 2.34 percent this year.
What to Watch Thursday:
- At 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, the Commerce Department releases housing starts for August, and the Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims.
- At 10 a.m., the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia releases its September survey of manufacturing conditions in the Mid-Atlantic region, and Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates.