January 4, 2017 / 7:38 PM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street keep gains after release of Fed minutes

* Fed minutes show policymakers eyeing faster rate hikes

* Ford, GM rise on December U.S. auto sales

* Comcast up after price target increase

* Indexes up: Dow 0.28 pct, S&P 0.57 pct, Nasdaq 0.90 pct (Updates to afternoon)

By Noel Randewich

Jan 4 (Reuters) - Wall Street held onto gains on Wednesday after minutes from the Fed’s December meeting showed policymakers were concerned that quicker economic growth under President-elect Donald Trump could require faster interest-rate increases.

U.S. stocks have surged over the past two months on expectations that Trump will stimulate the economy with tax cuts and infrastructure spending, and eliminate regulations in the financial industry.

But investors also worry that stimulating the economy could stir inflation and push the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more aggressively than anticipated.

“Clearly, some of the members on the committee are taking a look at proposed fiscal changes, whether that’s tax cuts or infrastructure spending,” said Chris Zaccarelli, Chief Investment Officer for Cornerstone Financial Partners. “It’s confirmation of what people were already expecting.”

Extremely low interest have fueled a stock market rally since the 2008 financial crisis and investors worry that raising rates will crimp future increases.

With just over two weeks left before Trump takes office, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average approaching the never-before-reached 20,000 mark, investors also say they need to see evidence that his campaign-trail promises will be approved by Republican lawmakers.

At 2:27 p.m. ET, the Dow was up 0.28 percent to 19,938.17 points and the S&P 500 had gained 0.57 percent to 2,270.69.

The Nasdaq Composite added 0.9 percent to 5,477.83.

The S&P 500 consumer discretionary sector rose 1.31 percent and was on track for its best day in nearly a month, helped by gains in automakers.

Both General Motors and Ford rose over 4 percent after posting better-than-expected U.S. sales in December.

Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, with just the energy and telecommunications sectors at a loss.

Gilead Sciences jumped 3.24 percent after the biopharmaceutical company named a new oncology chief.

Comcast rose 1.01 percent after Macquarie raised its price target.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 5.45-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.75-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 136 new highs and 15 new lows. (Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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