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REFILE-US STOCKS-S&P 500 ends little changed as Powell says Fed still a ways away from rate hikes

·2 min read
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(Refiles to change "if" to "it" in last sentence)

* Fed keeps overnight benchmark interest rate near zero

* Fed leaves unchanged bond-buying program

* Alphabet rises after results

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, July 28 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 ended little changed on Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank was still a ways away from considering raising interest rates.

The Nasdaq ended sharply higher, with shares of Google parent Alphabet Inc hitting an all-time high as a surge in advertising spending helped it post record quarterly results.

In a news conference following the release of a new policy statement from the Fed, Powell also said the U.S. job market still had "some ground to cover" before it would be time to pull back from the economic support the U.S. central bank put in place in the spring of 2020 to battle the coronavirus pandemic's economic shocks.

"It looks like probably the most positive thing for the market was that they are nowhere near increasing interest rates," said Alan Lancz, president, Alan B. Lancz & Associates Inc, an investment advisory firm based in Toledo, Ohio.

The S&P 500 index reversed slight declines following the Fed's statement, while the Dow pared losses and the Nasdaq added to its gains.

The Fed also kept its overnight benchmark interest rate near zero and left unchanged its bond-buying program.

In its statement that came at the conclusion of its latest two-day policy meeting, the central bank also said that higher inflation remained the result of "transitory factors."

Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 128.12 points, or 0.37%, to 34,930.4, the S&P 500 lost 0.82 points, or 0.02%, to 4,400.64 and the Nasdaq Composite added 102.01 points, or 0.7%, to 14,762.58.

Among decliners, Apple Inc eased after it forecast slowing revenue growth.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch in New York Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar, Sagarika Jaisinghani and Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru Editing by Maju Samuel and Matthew Lewis)