* Fed raises rates as job gains, inflation stoke confidence
* Twitter falls after prominent accounts hacked
* Dow up 0.6 pct, S&P 500 up 0.95 pct, Nasdaq up 0.87 pct
(Updates with reaction to Fed's Yellen)
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, March 15 U.S. stocks were near session
highs in afternoon trading on Wednesday after the Federal
Reserve raised interest rates for the second time in three
months, as expected.
The Fed, which raised its target rate by 25 basis points to
0.75 to 1.00 percent, did not however flag any plan to
accelerate the pace of monetary tightening, a concern that had
lingered among some market participants.
Markets were expecting the Fed's decision and traders had
priced in more than a 90 percent chance of a quarter-point rate
increase, according to federal funds futures.
"The concern heading into this meeting was that the Fed
would show more urgency in increasing interest rates beyond
three rate hikes. The statement and the forecast ... imply that
they're staying the course," said Frances Donald, senior
economist at Manulife Asset Management in Toronto.
"The additional risk of moving more hawkishly doesn't seem
to be present here."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 124.5 points,
or 0.6 percent, to 20,961.87, the S&P 500 gained 22.5
points, or 0.95 percent, to 2,387.95 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 50.81 points, or 0.87 percent, to 5,907.63.
Financials on the S&P 500 were the worst-performing
sector while real estate, up 2.2 percent, was on track
to post its largest daily gain since branching out as the 11th
S&P sector last September.
U.S. retail sales recorded their smallest gain in six months
in February, setting U.S. gross domestic product on track to
grow at a 0.8 percent annualized pace in the first quarter,
according to the Atlanta Fed's latest forecast.
Energy stocks boosted the S&P 500 as oil prices rose for the
first time in more than a week on a surprise drawdown in U.S.
crude inventories. U.S. crude gained 2.4 percent to
$48.84 per barrel and Brent added 1.8 percent to $51.85.
Exxon shares rose 1.2 percent and Chevron
added 1.4 percent.
Apple was up 1.2 percent at $140.70 after RBC
raised its price target on the stock.
Twitter was down 1.7 percent at $15.07 after a
number of prominent accounts on the microblogging website were
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a
7.91-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.68-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 74 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 121 new highs and 41 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Sam Forgione and Sinead Carew; Editing
by James Dalgleish and Nick Zieminski)