The markets looked like an EKG chart on Wednesday, mainly thanks to the Federal Reserve.
The central bank continued to confuse investors by saying interest rates could still rise this year, but then next is still possible, too.
The markets initially sold off after the Fed's latest policy statement. But by the close, investors were in a good mood again and buying stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average actually fell into negative territory right after the Fed statement, but then rallied in the final hour to close up over 175 points.
The S&P 500 ended up 1.2%, the Dow added 1.1%, and the Nasdaq gained 1.3%.
The Fed "hasn't been overly clear," Tom Siomades, senior managing director and head of Hartford Funds Investment Consulting Group, told TheStreet. "That's what the markets more than anything react to."
The possibility of a December rate hike will likely keep trading unpredictable over the next six weeks until Fed members meet again. Each new data point will be scrutinized for how it justifies, or dissuades, a 2015 monetary move.
"Economic data over the next six months will be meticulously dissected through the lens of Fed policy," said Matt Weller, senior market analyst at FOREX.com. "We could see a big move over the low-liquidity holiday period, regardless of what the [Fed] decides."
Other than the dashed hopes for a timeline, the October statement was a snoozefest. As expected, the Fed left rates unchanged at crises-levels as members conceded that labor growth had "slowed" while the U.S. economy continued to expand at a "modest pace."
There was more-than-enough excitement on commodity markets after crude oil enjoyed its best day in three months. Crude inventories rose by 3.4 million barrels over the past week, according to the Energy Information Administration, in-line with analysts' expectations. Distillate inventories, which include diesel, fell by 3 million barrels, a faster pace than an expected 1.7 million-barrel decline. West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed 5.4% higher to $45.55 a barrel.
The energy sector rebounded on the data following two straight days of declines. Among the best performers, Exxon Mobil (XOM) - Get Report , Chevron (CVX) - Get Report , Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) , BP (BP) - Get Report and Schlumberger (SLB) - Get Report rose, while the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) - Get Report added 2.2%.
In earnings news, Apple (AAPL) - Get Report climbed 4.1% after iPhone sales in China boosted overall quarterly revenue. The tech giant earned $1.96 a share in its recent quarter, above estimates of $1.88. Revenue jumped 22% to $51.5 billion and beat forecasts. The company sold 48.04 million iPhones during the quarter, only two days of which included sales of the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.
Twitter (TWTR) - Get Report slumped 1.5% after releasing a disappointing sales outlook and slowing user growth. The social network expects fourth-quarter revenue in the range of $695 million to $710 million. Analysts had expected an average $741 million. Over the third quarter, the company reported 320 million average monthly active users, up 11% from a year earlier, but 4 million short estimates.
Anthem (ANTM) - Get Report shares were 2% lower despite a better-than-expected quarter. The health insurance company earned an adjusted $2.73 a share over its third quarter, 40 cents above estimates. Results were boosted by an increase in medical enrollment, particularly in its commercial and government segments.
Gilead Sciences (GILD) - Get Report fell 2.6% after quarterly sales of its key hepatitis C treatments came in flat year over year as health insurers opted for less expensive medicine. However, the drugmaker did top revenue and earnings estimates over the quarter.