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Fed Boosts Stocks as Interest Rate Hike Remains Distant

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks advanced Wednesday as investors cheered minutes of the Federal Reserve's policy-making arm, which didn't signal a move to raise the benchmark interest rate any time soon.

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.97% to 16,533.06, while the S&P 500 was 0.81% higher at 1,888.03. The Nasdaq jumped 0.85% to 4,131.54.
  • Minutes from the FOMC's April 29-30 meeting revealed a discussion of the rate hike process, specifically the need for a right mix of policy tools to control rates when normalization begins. There was no indication that the rate-hike discussion meant there would be any action any time soon.
  • Officials noted a lot of slack remaining in the labor market and spoke about downside growth risks include housing, China, and Ukraine and Russia tensions. There were also suggestions that more information on balance sheet plans would be useful for the FOMC to provide.
  • Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) advanced 5.1% in as it revealed plans to expand into Germany, France and four other European countries later this year.
  • AstraZeneca (AZN) rose 2% after a large investor urged it to reconsider its rejection of a $120 billion takeover offer from Pfizer (PFE).
  • Tiffany (TIF) was the top performer in the S&P 500 gaining 9.2% after its quarterly profit beat estimates.
  • Target (TGT - Get Report) added 1% after reporting another deep decline in quarterly earnings and after it cut its full-year guidance. The company continues to struggle with customer traffic and the aftermath of the massive data breach during the last holiday season.
  • Lowe's (LOW) was off 0.24% after missing first-quarter earnings per share by 2 cents at 58 cents a share. Revenue arrived above expectations.
  • France's largest bank, BNP Paribas, was shedding 1.32% after reports U.S. authorities are seeking more than $5 billion to settle violations of U.S. sanctions. Credit Suisse (CS) has agreed to pay $2.6 billion in a settlement for helping Americans evade taxes.
  • Traditional tech stocks Cisco (CSCO) and Microsoft (MSFT) were gaining while Twitter (TWTR) slipped 0.06%.
  • Russia struck a $400 billion, 30-year deal to supply China with natural gas through a new pipeline. Russia is turning to China amid rising tensions with the U.S. and European Union due to the Ukraine crisis.
  • Global markets were focused on European parliament elections this week. Overnight, the Bank of Japan maintained its current monetary policy stance. The FTSE 100 was up 0.28% and the DAX was up 0.61%. The Hang Seng finished little changed and the Nikkei 225 closed down 0.24%.

-- By Jane Searle, Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York

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