U.S. stocks jump, dollar hits seven-month high after Fed minutes

Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:05pm EST
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By Lewis Krauskopf

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks gained steam and the dollar touched a fresh seven-month high on Wednesday after minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve policy meeting showed a core of officials backed a possible interest rate hike in December.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasuries fared better than shorter-dated issues after the minutes of the Fed's Oct. 27-28 meeting showed "most" participants felt conditions for a rate hike "could well be met by the time of the next meeting."

Earlier, two Fed officials expressed confidence that they will be able to pull off a relatively smooth increase when the time comes.

"The greatest Christmas gift the Fed could give the market is certainty," said Steve Chiavarone, assistant portfolio manager at Federated Investors in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 247.66 points, or 1.42 percent, to 17,737.16, the S&P 500 gained 33.14 points, or 1.62 percent, to 2,083.58 and the Nasdaq Composite added 89.19 points, or 1.79 percent, to 5,075.20.

"I think the market is ready and comfortable for an increasing fed funds rate," said Alan Rechtschaffen, portfolio manager at UBS Wealth Management Americas in New York.

Major European stock indexes fell as security issues remained a focus for investors. A suicide bomber blew herself up in a police raid that sources said had foiled a jihadi plan to hit Paris's business district, days after attacks that killed 129 across the French capital.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which had risen 2.6 percent on Tuesday, dipped 0.2 percent Wednesday, with industrial gas company Air Liquide off sharply after announcing an expensive-looking acquisition. The French CAC 40 index fell 0.6 percent.   Continued...

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid