US STOCKS-Wall St holds sharp gains; Fed to take patient approach on rates
* Fed on track to raise rates sometime next year
* Energy shares lead gains on S&P 500
* Indexes up: Dow 1.1 pct, S&P 1.3 pct, Nasdaq 1.4 pct (Updates to late afternoon)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Dec 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were up more than 1 percent in Wednesday afternoon trading as the Federal Reserve gave an upbeat assessment of the economy and said it would take a patient approach toward lifting interest rates, a view that investors embraced.
Stocks extended sharp gains following the statement but pared some of that increase heading into the close as Fed Chair Janet Yellen commented on policy. The gains follow a three-day streak of losses for the market.
Following a two-day meeting, the U.S. central bank gave a strong signal that it was on track to raise interest rates sometime next year. The statement came against a backdrop of solid domestic economic growth but trouble overseas.
"In my mind there are no big surprises with this announcement and the market, especially given the uncertainty of the past week, no big surprises is a good thing. So it's a little bit of a sigh of relief," said Cameron Hinds, regional CIO at Wells Fargo Private Bank in Lincoln, Nebraska.
All 10 S&P sectors were higher, though energy was in the lead by a wide margin. The S&P energy sector, which has fallen sharply with the heavy selloff in oil prices since June, was up 3.6 percent. Shares of Chevron were up 3.7 percent. Continuación...