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S&P 500 has best day in a year following Fed minutes

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange October 3, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks soared on Wednesday, with major indexes posting their biggest one-day jumps of 2014 after the Federal Reserve reassured investors that its first interest rate hike would not come until it deemed the economy could withstand it.

The day's gains were broad and gains accelerated near the end of the volatile session. While Wall Street fell in morning trading, with the S&P briefly dipping under its 150-day moving average, all ten primary sectors of the S&P ended higher and only one closed with a gain of less than 1 percent.

The Fed has said that it would not raise rates for a "considerable time," and in the minutes from its Sept. 16-17 meeting the U.S. central bank expressed concern that this could be interpreted "as a commitment" rather than being based on data that pointed to an economy that could grow without Fed stimulus.

"Data dependency is what the Fed is trying to beat into the skull of Mr. Market, and the labor market is still too squishy for the Fed to be raising rates anytime soon," said Jim O’Donnell, chief investment officer at Forward in San Francisco, which has $5 billion in assets under management.

Sectors tied to the pace of economic growth led the day. Financials (.SPSY) rose 1.8 percent while technology (.SPLRCT) was up 2 percent. Among specific names, JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) added 1.9 percent to $60.40 while Apple Inc (AAPL.O) was up 2.1 percent to $100.80.

Only 21 of the S&P's 500 components ended lower, while the CBOE Volatility index (.VIX) fell 12.2 percent to 15.11.

With the turn higher, the S&P 500 was 2.2 percent below its record close while the Russell 2000 (.TOY) was 9.3 percent away from its record, moving out of the 10 percent threshold that represents a correction.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) rose 274.83 points, or 1.64 percent, to 16,994.22, the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 33.79 points, or 1.75 percent, to 1,968.89 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) added 83.39 points, or 1.9 percent, to 4,468.59.

The day marked the biggest one-day advance for both the S&P and Nasdaq since Oct. 10, 2013, when hopes grew for a deal to end a budget stalemate in Washington. It was the best day for the Dow since December.

Volume was heavy, with about 8.4 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms, according to BATS exchange data, well over the month-to-date average of 7.19 billion.

After the market closed, Alcoa Inc (AA.N) rose in extended trading after the aluminum maker reported third-quarter revenue that topped expectations.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,474 to 608, for a 4.07-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,917 issues rose and 772 fell for a 2.48-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The benchmark S&P 500 index posted 14 new 52-week highs and 23 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite saw 23 new highs and 268 new lows.

(Editing by Nick Zieminski)