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Stocks Rally in Relief as Fed Stays Mum on September Hike

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Federal Reserve wasn't expected to raise rates in July, and didn't, but Wall Street still rallied into the close on Tuesday amid expectations that the central bank would keep borrowing costs unchanged.

The S&P 500 rose 0.7% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average also added 0.7%, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.4%.

Fed members unanimously decided to leave its benchmark fund rate unchanged at its crises-level of 0% to 0.25%. Consensus expectations called for no rate hike this month, so the prognosticators were correct. The announcement marked the 54th meeting the Fed hasn't tightened policy.

In a statement following their two-day meeting, Fed members offered no clues as to whether they will seriously consider a rate hike at their next meeting in September. Nonetheless, a rate hike clearly remains a possibility as as the central bank reiterated its viewpoint that the U.S. economy and job market continues to improve.

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"In line with our estimates, the Fed did not put itself in a position where it had to hike at the next meeting," said Dan Greenhaus, chief strategist at BTIG Research. "There is plenty of time between now and the September meeting for FOMC officials to prepare markets for a September hike."

Crude oil prices closed 1.7% higher to $48.79 a barrel after weekly data on U.S. crude inventories declined by 4.2 million barrels for the week ended July 24, according to the Energy Information Administration. Economists expected stocks to decline by 200,000 after an increase of 2.5 million a week earlier.

Energy stocks were among the best performers in trading on Wednesday. PetroChina (PTR - Get Report) , Total (TOT - Get Report) , Shlumberger (SLB - Get Report) , and ConocoPhillips (COP - Get Report) were all higher, while the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) added 1.4%.

Twitter (TWTR) fell 14.5% on worries over user growth. Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto noted in a conference call that sustained user growth was unlikely until redesigns allow Twitter to reach the mass market. Users rose by 2 million to 304 million over the quarter. Second-quarter earnings of 7 cents a share beat estimates by 3 cents and revenue rose 61% from a year earlier.

Yelp (YELP) plummeted more than 25% after reporting a mixed quarter. The online reviews company posted a surprise second-quarter loss of 2 cents a share, while revenue edged past expectations. Third-quarter revenue forecasts between $139 million and $142 million missed estimates of $152.7 million.

Gilead Sciences (GILD) added 2.5% after reporting second-quarter earnings of $3.15 a share, 44 cents above estimates. Revenue jumped 26% to $8.2 billion and beat expectations by $590 million. Full-year revenue guidance was also increased.

Humana (HUM) beat earnings estimates and reporting in-line revenue for its second quarter. The managed health care company earned $1.67 a share, 4 cents more than expected, while revenue of $13.73 billion jumped more than 12%.

MasterCard (MA) gained more than 2% despite missing second-quarter earnings estimates and reporting in-line revenue. The credit card company earned 81 cents a share, 4 cents below estimates, on revenue of $2.4 billion. Sales increased 1% from a year earlier.

Pending home sales fell 1.8% to 110.3, according to the National Association of Realtors. The reading fell back from sales at a nine-year high of 112.3 in May and marked the first decline in half a year. Economists had expected the measure to increase 1%.

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SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
XLE $71.43 1.36%
COP $52.90 1.26%
PTR $102.52 3.32%
SLB $83.89 1.68%
TOT $48.96 1.81%

Markets

Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,751.39 +121.12 0.69%
S&P 500 2,108.57 +15.32 0.73%
NASDAQ 5,111.7330 +22.5270 0.44%

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