___The S&P 500 index rose 41.05 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,681.05. The Dow gained 434.90 points, or 1.8 percent, to 25,014.86. The Nasdaq composite climbed 154.79 points, or 2.2 percent, to 7,183.08. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 15.49 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1,486.94.
U.S. crude oil rose 1.7 percent to settle at $54.23 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 0.5 percent to close at $61.65 per barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 2.3 percent to $1.38 a gallon. Heating oil was little changed at $1.90 a gallon. Natural gas fell 1.7 percent to $2.85 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Fed keeps key rate unchanged and pledges to be ‘patient’
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is keeping its key interest rate unchanged and signaling that it could leave rates alone in coming months given global economic pressures and mild inflation. The Fed also says it’s prepared to slow the reduction of its bond holdings if needed to help the economy. The central bank said Wednesday that it would be “patient” about future rate hikes. Its benchmark short-term rate will remain in a range of 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent after having been raised four times last year. The Fed’s key rate influences many loan rates for businesses and consumers, including mortgages.
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks finished sharply higher Wednesday after the Federal Reserve signaled it could hold off on interest rate increases in the coming months, citing muted inflation. Technology companies powered the broad rally, which snapped the market’s two-day losing streak. The S&P 500 index is track to end January with its biggest monthly gain in more than three years. The Fed announcement added to early gains as traders welcomed positive results and outlooks from several big companies including Boeing.
Apple busts Facebook for distributing data-sucking app
NEW YORK (AP) — Apple says Facebook can no longer distribute an app that paid users, including teenagers, to extensively track their phone and web use. In doing so, Apple closed off Facebook’s efforts to sidestep Apple’s app store and its tighter rules on privacy. Facebook says it got permission from users, though the company has a history of defining “permission” loosely and obscuring what data it collects.
Tesla posts small 4Q profit; tougher times ahead
DETROIT (AP) — Tesla eked out a small fourth-quarter profit to close 2018, but a debt payment and slowing demand for pricier versions of its vehicles will make it hard to stay in the black. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla posted net income of $139.48 million, or 78 cents per share, from October through December. Excluding one-time items, it made $2 per share, falling short of Wall Street estimates.
For US-China trade talks, hopes are high, expectations low
WASHINGTON (AP) — The odds seem stacked against any substantive resolution when U.S. and Chinese negotiators start two days of high-level talks Wednesday aimed at settling a six-month trade war. The differences between Beijing and Washington are vast. The U.S. is essentially demanding that China downsize its economic aspiration to become a supreme world leader in such fields as robotics and electric cars.
UK farmers worry where exports will go without EU deal
CEREDIGION, Wales (AP) — U.K. meat producers are particularly vulnerable to the threat of a no-deal Brexit. That’s because 90 percent of their exports go to EU countries, meaning many would find themselves in jeopardy because of the tariffs and border delays that would follow a disorderly exit from the bloc.
Judge says utility violated its probation in criminal case
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge in San Francisco found Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. violated its probation in a criminal case stemming from a deadly gas explosion in 2010 and berated the utility Wednesday for not doing enough to prevent its equipment from causing more wildfires. The utility’s return to a U.S. courtroom came a day after it declared bankruptcy, as it tries to convince a judge not to order dramatic steps to try to mitigate wildfires in the future.
Boeing soars and lifts markets with it
DALLAS (AP) — Boeing is reporting annual revenue of more than $100 billion for the first time and shares are soaring after the company easily beat Wall Street’s profit and sales expectations for the fourth quarter. The big numbers from the plane maker, which is heavily exposed to trade standoff between the U.S. and China, pushed the Dow higher Wednesday.
Foxconn reconsiders plan for Wisconsin manufacturing hub
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Foxconn Technology Group is changing the focus of its planned $10 billion Wisconsin campus, while insisting it remains committed to creating 13,000 jobs as promised. The world’s leading electronics manufacturer says in a statement Wednesday that because of a changed global marketplace, all of its projects including the one in Wisconsin are being “adjusted to meet these new realities.”