US STOCKS-Wall St surges as Fed statement offers relief
* Indexes up: Dow 1.3 pct, S&P 1.4 pct, Nasdaq 1.2 pct
* Oil rallies, energy shares gain (Updates to afternoon)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, March 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rallied on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve cut its expected pace of growth and inflation, suggesting a less aggressive timeline for raising interest rates even as it opened the door for the first rate hike in almost a decade.
The Fed in its statement following a two-day meeting dropped its pledge to be "patient" in deciding when to begin raising rates, moving a step closer toward hiking rates, but made it clear that it needs to see more gains in the labor market and price growth to raise rates.
While the statement put a June rate increase on the table, it also allowed the Fed enough flexibility to move later in the year, stressing that any decision would depend on incoming data.
All 10 S&P sectors were higher. At its session high, the S&P 500 came within 0.5 percent of its record close set earlier this month.
"By eliminating 'patient' from its guidance it removed an artificial stricture on its flexibility, creating room for the data to dictate its future actions," said David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial in Boston.
"At the same time, by lowering its expectations for the pace at which rates will rise, it sent a clear signal that it is in no hurry to push rates higher as it views the economy as growing only moderately." Continuación...