* Dow, S&P, Nasdaq all up 0.4 pct (Updates prices, adds comment on Fed)
By Rodrigo Campos
June 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose in choppy trading on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said the U.S. economy is likely strong enough to withstand an interest rate hike later this year.
Even if a majority of Fed officials continue to see higher rates later this year, they expect rates to rise slightly less by the end of 2016 and 2017 than they did in March.
That view on rates saw high-yielding stocks gain, with the S&P 500 utilities sector up 0.8 percent after hitting its lowest since late September on Tuesday.
“The Fed is talking about the labor market tightening somewhat, which seems to be a hint that it is a step closer to raising rates. At the same time, it seems like there was a notching down of the magnitude of rate hike expectations,” said Nick Kalivas, senior equity product strategist at Invesco PowerShares in Downers Grove, Illinois.
“Those two things are what is causing stocks to go back and forth.”
Major indexes were volatile in the hour following the statement. Stocks initially added to losses, then hit session highs as Fed Chair Janet Yellen spoke to the media in a follow-up to the statement.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 77.8 points, or 0.43 percent, to 17,982.28, the S&P 500 gained 8.85 points, or 0.42 percent, to 2,105.14 and the Nasdaq Composite added 20.67 points, or 0.41 percent, to 5,076.22.
Adding to support for equities, investors have seen the proximity of rising rates as a trigger for more M&A activity, with mergers and acquisitions already at record levels.
Away from the Fed, FedEx fell 3.9 percent to $175.08 after the package delivery firm reported a quarterly net loss.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,673 to 1,366, for a 1.22-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,442 issues rose and 1,282 fell for a 1.12-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The benchmark S&P 500 index posted 21 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 138 new highs and 30 new lows.
Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Nick Zieminski