US STOCKS-Wall St gains after Fed gives no word on tapering

Last Updated: Wed, Jul 31, 2013 19:30 hrs

* Fed statement offers no hint of stimulus pullback

* Facebook falls after trading above IPO price of $38

* Dow up 0.2 pct; S&P 500 up 0.4 pct; Nasdaq up 0.7 pct

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, July 31 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced in volatile trading on Wednesday, pushing the S&P 500 to within a few points of 1,700, after the Federal Reserve gave no hint that a reduction in the pace of its bond-buying program is imminent.

In a statement following its two-day meeting, the Fed said the economy continues to recover but still needs support.

The three major U.S. stock indexes quickly added to gains within a few minutes of the Fed's statement. About 2:19 p.m., though, the Dow briefly turned negative and then rebounded. At the same time, prices for U.S. Treasuries reversed early losses to trade higher.

S&P indexes tracking financials, consumer discretionary and other growth sectors led the advance. The S&P financial index was up 1.1 percent.

"At this point, even though the market wants more clarity, the Fed is reminding us that they need to look at the data and based on the data, they'll make that decision," said Andres Garcia-Amaya, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds, in New York.

The Fed's stimulus is seen by many as central to the S&P 500's gain of nearly 19 percent so far this year. For July, the S&P 500 was up 5.6 percent - with less than an hour to go before the closing bell. That puts the benchmark index on track to post its best month since October 2011.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 30.72 points, or 0.20 percent, at 15,551.31. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 7.32 points, or 0.43 percent, at 1,693.28. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 23.73 points, or 0.66 percent, at 3,640.19.

The S&P 500 climbed as high as 1,698.43 at around 3 p.m. and then eased off that slightly.

It was the 10th straight session where the S&P 500 traded within 10 points of the 1,700 level, considered a key level of resistance for the market. A rise above that level could signal that stocks have more room to rise.

The Dow remained below its session high, however. In late morning trade, the Dow set an all-tme intraday high of 15,634.32.

The Nasdaq reached a session high of 3,649.35, its highest in almost 13 years, shortly before 3 p.m., according to a Thomson Reuters chart.

In another milestone set earlier in the session, Facebook Inc's stock traded above its initial public offering price of $38 for the first time since its market debut in May 2012. The stock rose as high as $38.31. By late afternoon trading, though, Facebook was down 1 percent at $37.24.

Comcast Corp gave the S&P 500 its biggest boost after the U.S. cable provider posted a higher quarterly profit on Wednesday, as it added more Internet customers than expected on the cable side and booked an increase of more than 20 percent in operating cash flow at its NBC Universal unit. The stock was up 6 percent at $45.28.

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