US STOCKS-S&P hits record on Fed support; financials lead
(Updates to late morning, changes comment)
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Sept 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were rising in late morning trading on Thursday, with the S&P 500 hitting a record high a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve renewed its commitment to keeping interest rates low.
The Fed said Wednesday at the conclusion of a two-day policy meeting it would keep interest rates near zero for a "considerable time," language supportive of equities which some had expected to be dropped from the statement.
However, the central bank's outlook included forecasts for higher-than-expected rates in 2015 and 2016, which helped financial stocks lead gains on Wall Street.
U.S. housing starts and permits fell in August, but upward revisions to the prior month's data suggested the housing market continued to gradually improve. Separate data showing a sharp drop in the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week suggested the slowdown in job growth last month was probably an aberration.
"Data says the U.S. economy continues to chug along," said King Lip, chief investment officer at Baker Avenue Asset Management in San Francisco.
He said the Fed statement was giving support to Wall Street and relative valuations could continue to push money towards U.S. stocks.
"Right now the best-looking asset class is equities." Continuación...