Updated from 4:12 p.m. ESTStocks shrugged off a slow start and surged Wednesday after the statement accompanying the Federal Reserve's first meeting of the year offered a relatively benign view of the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 98.38 points, or 0.79%, to 12,621.69 -- less than a point below a record close. The S&P 500 added 9.42 points, or 0.66%, to 1438.24, and the Nasdaq Composite was higher by 15.29 points, or 0.62%, at 2463.93. The late rally helped the major indices finish the month of January with strong gains. The Dow was higher by 158 points, or 1.3%, its seventh straight monthly rise. The S&P 500 gained 20 points, or 1.4%, its eighth straight winning month. The Nasdaq finished the month with an increase of 49 points, or 2%. Roughly 2.95 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange. Advancers beat decliners by a 2-to-1 margin. Volume on the Nasdaq reached nearly 2.24 billion shares, with winners narrowly outpacing losers. The major averages moved out of their earlier doldrums after the Federal Open Market Committee decided to keep its federal funds target unchanged at 5.25% for the fifth straight meeting, an outcome that had been widely expected on Wall Street. The FOMC said in its policy statement that recent indicators showed "somewhat firmer economic growth, and some tentative signs of stabilization have appeared in the housing market."