Dow, S&P 500 at highest levels since 2008

stock marketClick chart for more market data By Hibah Yousuf, staff reporter


NEW YORK(CNNMoney) -- It was a 'no news is good news' kind of day for the stock market.

After waiting on the sidelines most of Wednesday in anticipation of the Federal Reserve's statement and Fed chief Ben Bernanke's first press conference, investors waded back in.

As expected, the central bank said it would keep interest rates low and end its $600 billion Treasury buying program in June, while Bernanke reassured investors that the nation's economic recovery is on track.

"The Fed statement and Bernanke's speech didn't offer any surprises, and that's good for the market because Wall Street hates uncertainty," said Doug Roberts, chief investment officer at Channel Capital Research and author of Follow the Fed to Investment Success.

The lack of news pushed the Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) up 96 points, or 0.8%. The S&P 500 (SPX) rose 8 points, or 0.6%, and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) added 22 points, or 0.8%.

The gains put all three indexes at fresh multi-year highs. The Dow climbed to its highest level since May 2008, while the S&P 500 rose to its highest level since June 2008. The Nasdaq pushed to its highest level since December 2000.

With the Fed's meeting on top of this week's onslaught of corporate earnings and economic reports, "investors have a lot to digest," said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co.

Bernanke said the Fed would end its bond-buying program "without tapering," and that there were no plans to do more. "The trade-offs are getting less attractive," he said. Bernanke also noted that the central bank's balance sheet would remain constant after QE2 ends.

On Tuesday, U.S. stocks finished at their highest levels in three years.

Companies: GE's (GE, Fortune 500) stock jumped 2.7%, leading the Dow's gainers. At an annual shareholder's meeting, the conglomerate's CFO said the company's profit growth over the next few years will be the fastest it has seen in a decade.

Shares of Merck (MRK, Fortune 500) rose 1.6% after the Dow component got the green light from its board for a $5 billion share buyback program.

Shares of Boeing (BA, Fortune 500) rose 0.8% after the aeronautics company reported a 13% increase in its first-quarter profit.

Amazon.com (AMZN, Fortune 500)'s stock was the biggest winner on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, with shares rising 8%, even though the online merchant reported first-quarter earnings that fell by one-third compared to a year earlier and sharply missed Wall Street forecasts.

For-profit educator DeVry's (DV) stock was also a strong performer on the S&P 500 after popping more than 7%. Late Tuesday, DeVry reported a 14% rise in its quarterly profit

Meanwhile, shares of Broadcom (BRCM, Fortune 500) sank 12.3% after the semiconductor company issued a disappointing outlook. Broadcom was the worst performing company in the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

After Tuesday's close, Starbucks (SBUX, Fortune 500) posted quarterly results roughly in line with expectations, but the coffee giant disappointed investors with a lower-than-expected outlook. Shares slipped 2% in after-hours trading.

Economy: The government said new orders for durable goods increased 2.5% in March, after a 0.7% rise the month before. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com expect an increase of 1.8% in March.

World markets: European stocks closed mixed. The DAX in Germany rose 0.7%, France's CAC 40 gained 0.7%, while Britain's FTSE 100 ended slightly lower.

Asian markets also ended mixed. The Shanghai Composite and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong both fell about 0.5%, while Japan's Nikkei rallied 1.4%.

Standard & Poor's warned that Japan's government could face a downgrade of its credit rating within the next few years, as the nation's economy recovers from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

S&P lowered its outlook on Japan's long-term debt to "negative" from "stable," saying the government will likely bear most of the cost of rebuilding. The ongoing struggle to contain a damaged nuclear power plant in Japan makes the outlook even more uncertain, the agency said.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar fell against the euro and the British pound, but rose versus the Japanese yen.

Oil for June delivery gained 55 cents to settle at $112.76 a barrel.

Gold futures for June delivery rose $13.60 to settle at $1,517.10 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, with the yield rising to 3.37% from Tuesday's yield of 3.32%. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.94%4.13%
15 yr fixed3.04%3.08%
5/1 ARM3.55%3.40%
30 yr refi4.02%4.17%
15 yr refi3.10%3.14%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,614.81 215.14 1.31%
Nasdaq 4,419.48 103.41 2.40%
S&P 500 1,941.28 37.27 1.96%
Treasuries 2.21 0.03 1.24%
Data as of 10:09pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 102.47 2.71 2.72%
Bank of America Corp... 16.60 0.34 2.09%
The Coca-Cola Co 40.68 -2.61 -6.03%
Regions Financial Co... 9.26 0.10 1.09%
Yahoo! Inc 40.18 0.90 2.29%
Data as of 4:02pm ET

Sections

Yahoo was in the spotlight Tuesday as it released its third-quarter results, its first earnings release since the Alibaba IPO. More

Startups focusing on "ag tech," or agricultural technology, are gaining the attention of farmers and investors More

Foreign workers, lured by false promises of good jobs and benefits in America, soon find themselves enslaved in plain sight as victims of labor trafficking, a report from the Urban Institute finds. Here's how it can happen. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.