US STOCKS-Wall St closes at 2016 high as Fed signals fewer rate hikes

miércoles 16 de marzo de 2016 17:10 GYT

* Fed keeps rates unchanged, eyes two hikes this year

* S&P 500 closes at highest level of the year

* Indexes up: Dow 0.43 pct, S&P 0.56 pct, Nasdaq 0.75 pct (Adds FedEx shares up after earnings reported)

By Laila Kearney

NEW YORK, March 16 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 closed at its highest level of the year on Wednesday after the U.S. Federal Reserve left interest rates untouched and signaled fewer rate hikes in coming months.

The Fed indicated moderate U.S. economic growth and "strong job gains" would allow it to tighten policy this year with fresh projections showing policymakers expected two quarter-point hikes by the year's end, half the number seen in December.

But the U.S. central bank noted the United States continues to face risks from an uncertain global economy.

Because of that uncertainty, "the committee judged it prudent to maintain the current policy stance at this meeting," Fed Chair Janet Yellen said.

The decision to keep rates steady was in line with analyst predictions, but the Fed's tone was surprising to some.   Continuación...