* Weekly jobless claims fall to two-month low of 252,000
* Amazon.com hits all-time high on BMO price target raise
* Weyerhaeuser soars on Goldman Sachs coverage initiation
* Indexes up: Dow 0.66 pct, S&P 0.61 pct, Nasdaq 0.70 pct
(Updates to early afternoon)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Sept 22 U.S. stocks marched higher on Thursday,
with the Nasdaq hitting a record intraday high, as investors
cheered the Federal Reserve's decision to not raise interest
While the Fed said the risks to economic outlook were
roughly "balanced", it left rates unchanged for want of "further
evidence of continued progress". Inflation remains below the
central bank's target of 2 percent and members saw room for
improvement in the labor market.
The Fed also slowed the pace of future hikes and cut its
longer run interest rate forecast, but sent a strong signal for
a rate hike by the end of this year.
The consensus among economists is for a move in December as
the Fed's November meeting comes just ahead of the U.S.
Traders have set the probability of a November hike at a
modest 12.4 percent, while the odds rise to 58.4 percent for
December, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.
"Clearly the markets view the Fed's inaction as favorable...
but if you read between the lines, the Fed is concerned about
the strength of the economy," said Matt Schreiber, chief
investment officer at WBI Investments in Red Bank, New Jersey.
"The Fed and central banks worldwide have been providing
investors with a sense of calm and complacency."
The Bank of Japan and the Bank of New Zealand also kept
The dollar index dropped 0.4 percent on Thursday, and
was on track to mark the second straight day of losses after the
Oil prices rose about 2 percent, in response to a weaker
dollar and a surprise drop in U.S. crude inventories.
Adding some support to the Fed's plans for at least one hike
this year was a report that showed the number of Americans
applying for unemployment last week fell to a two-month low.
At 12:34 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average
was up 120.6 points, or 0.66 percent, at 18,414.3. All but one
of its 30 components were higher.
The S&P 500 was up 13.12 points, or 0.61 percent, at
The Nasdaq Composite was up 37.03 points, or 0.7
percent, at 5,332.21, after rising as much as 0.76 percent to a
record of 5335.82.
The three indexes are on track to mark their third straight
day of gains.
The technology index rose 0.55 percent and was the
strongest influence on the benchmark S&P 500 index.
Shares of Amazon.com rose 1.9 percent to $804.86,
after hitting a record following a price target raise by BMO.
The stock gave the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq their biggest boost.
Apple rose 0.9 percent to $114.56 after Nomura and
RBC raised their price targets.
Weyerhaeuser was the top percentage gainer on the
S&P, rising 5.1 percent to $31.88 after Goldman Sachs initiated
coverage of the real estate investment trust with a "buy"
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,467
to 516. On the Nasdaq, 1,969 issues rose and 771 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 27 new 52-week highs and no new
lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 126 new highs and 11 new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by