US stocks rise again on Fed; S&P 500 positive for 2016

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks climbed for a third straight session on Friday in the wake of the Federal Reserve's lowered path for future interest rate increases.

The gains lifted the broad-based S&P 500 into positive territory for the first time in 2016 year, rising 8.99 points (0.44 per cent) to 2,049.58.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 120.81 (0.69 per cent) at 17,602.30, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 20.66 (0.43 per cent) to 4,795.65.

Analysts said the market continued to benefit after the Fed on Wednesday kept interest rates unchanged and scaled back projections for hiking them due to global growth worries.

Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities, said the market's rally has been "pretty impressive" since mid-February, but that stocks are still "essentially flat for the year."

"You've been hearing some of the calls for the market to pull back because valuations are getting stretched," he said.

Starwood Hotels surged 5.5 per cent after a group led by China's Anbang Insurance increased its bid for the US hotel chain to US$13.2 billion, and Starwood said it would cancel its earlier merger deal with Marriott International.

But Marriott shares gained 1.9 per cent as the company will earn a US$400 million termination fee for the cancellation.

Banks had a good day with JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America both up 2.9 per cent and Citigroup 1.6 per cent.

Jeweller Tiffany gained 3 per cent after it reported fourth-quarter earnings of US$1.46 per shares, six cents above analyst expectations.

Software company Adobe Systems rose 3.9 per cent after reporting that first-quarter net income tripled from the year-ago level to US$254.3 million following a 24.7 per cent rise in revenues.