Close Update: Wall Street Rallies as FOMC Rules Out April Rate Hike

Stocks closed with sizable gains on Wednesday, rallying into the final hours of trade after the minutes from the March Federal Open Market Committee downplayed the likelihood for an April rate hike as a result of the lingering downside pressure from the global economy. Coupled with a 5% rally in oil and gains in the healthcare sector, the Dow ended the day with a triple-digit gain and the Nasdaq Composite at its highest level this year.

Wall Street was defensive at the open, still rattled by two days in the red despite upbeat Chinese services sector data and firmer oil prices . By mid-morning equities turned positive and settled into a shallow range into the FOMC minutes. Stocks were unhinged by the first round of FOMC headlines, but recovered as the minutes revealed a cautious Fed that worries an April rate hike would "signal a sense of urgency they did not think appropriate." That cleared the way for the Dow to breach 17,700 with shares of component stock Pfizer ( PFE ) taking the lead.

The $160 billion Pfizer ( PFE ) and Allergan ( AGN ) merger was shelved Wednesday after the Treasury introduced new rules to curb corporate inversion mergers. Even though Pfizer will have to swallow higher U.S. tax rates and will lose more than $148 billion in profits that are parked offshore, investors reacted favorably to the news, pushing Pfizer shares to a 4-month high.

Another high-profile merger is under the microscope following the Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit to prevent the merger between oilfield services giants Halliburton ( HAL ) and Baker Hughes ( BHI ). The suit alleges that joining the two will reduce innovation and threaten price competition in the industry. Shares of Halliburton and Baker Hughes both closed significantly higher.

Here's where the markets stood at the close:


Dow Jones Industrial Index was up 112.73 (+0.64%)

S&P 500 was up 21.49 (+1.05%)

Nasdaq Composite Index was up 76.78 points (+1.59%)


FTSE 100 was up 1.16%

Nikkei 225 was down 0.11%

Hang Seng Index was up 0.15%

Shanghai China Composite Index was down 0.08%


(+) MOMO (+33.64%) CEO and founder Tang Yan disclosed 25.9% stake

(+) SRPT (+19.30%) Oppenheimer raised its price target to $60 from $45 and maintained an outperform rating

(+) STZ (+5.93%) Reported better-than-expected Q4 results, raises dividend and bought wine portfolio from Huneeus Vintners


(-) FHCO (-18.02%) Announced merger with Aspen Park Pharmaceuticals

(-) CREE (-14.60%) Issued weak guidance for Q3

(-) HOG (-7.02%) ITG Investment Research cut its Q1 sales outlook amid evidence that sales trends weakened considerably in March

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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