NEW YORK - Stocks rose on Wednesday, as the price of oil declined, while the Federal Reserve held its key interest rate steady and reduced expectations for a rate hike at its next meeting.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose more than the Dow, which was little changed. Blue chips staged a large reversal in the last half hour of trading, with the Dow all but erasing a 100-point gain, as it failed to shrug off the steep drop in Boeing Co's shares.
Boeing shares fell to a two-year low after Goldman Sachs recommended clients sell the U.S. plane maker's shares, given falling orders and high fuel prices.
The Fed boosted optimism among stock investors when it said in its accompanying statement that downside risks to growth appeared to have diminished somewhat.
It was the first time the U.S. central bank has held rates steady since embarking in September on a series of rate reductions to stimulate an economy grappling with a housing downturn and credit crisis.
"The market seems to be reading into it that we're not going to get an aggressive increase in interest rates soon, that it's steady as she goes in terms of monetary policy," said Craig Hester, CEO of Hester Capital Management in Austin, Texas.
The pullback in oil prices added to the positive mood as did a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit from Jabil Circuit, a contract electronics maker. Jabil's stock shot up about 16 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 4.40 points, or 0.04 percent, to close at 11,811.83. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 7.68 points, or 0.58 percent, to 1,321.97. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced the most, rising 32.98 points, or 1.39 percent, to 2,401.26.
RIMM falls after the BELL
But futures suggested Thursday could kick off on a sour note, after BlackBerry maker Research In Motion reported results and an outlook that fell short of analysts' expectations. Research In Motion's shares fell 8 percent after the bell to $131 from a Nasdaq close at $142.336.
In other extended-hours trading, shares of Nike Inc, the world's largest athletic shoe and apparel maker, fell 4.5 percent to $63. Nike posted a rise in quarterly profit but its shares slid on weakness in its U.S. market. On the New York Stock Exchange, Nike ended at $65.97.
Oracle Corp's shares, meanwhile, rose 1.5 percent after the bell to $22.90 after its profit beat Wall Street's estimates. Oracle closed on Nasdaq at $22.55, up 1.4 percent.
Boeing slides, Apple climbs
In the regular session, Boeing shares tumbled 6.9 percent to $69.94 and were the top drag on the Dow.
Among tech stocks, iPod maker Apple Inc gained 2.4 percent to $177.39 on the Nasdaq.
Jabil Circuit climbed 15.6 percent to $16.57 on the New York Stock Exchange.
U.S. crude for August delivery dropped $2.45, or 1.8 percent, to settle at $134.55 per barrel, after an unexpected rise in U.S. crude inventories as high fuel prices continued to erode demand.
Trading was light on the New York Stock Exchange, with about 1.40 billion shares changing hands, below last year's estimated daily average of roughly 1.90 billion, while on Nasdaq, about 2.17 billion shares traded, matching last year's daily average.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones by a ratio of about 2 to 1 on the NYSE and by about 9 to 5 on Nasdaq.