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Overnight Markets: US stocks soar on Fed minutes

Overnight Markets: US stocks soar on Fed minutes

Wall Street gained on Wednesday led by technology shares after minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting eased concern about the timing of future interest-rate increases.

The Dow Jones industrial average surged 181 points or 1.11%, to end at 16,437. The S&P 500 gained 20 points or 1.09%, to finish at 1,872. The Nasdaq Composite added 71 points or 1.72%, to close at 4,184.

Fed policymakers were unanimous in wanting to do away with the thresholds they had been using to telegraph a policy tightening, according to minutes of a meeting last month that shed little new light on what might prompt an eventual interest-rate rise.

In the latest snapshot of the economy, Commerce Department data showed that US wholesale inventories rose at a slower pace of 0.5% in February, in line with expectations, after a revised gain of 0.8% in January.

Internet and biotech stocks were among the day's biggest gainers. Facebook Inc. climbed 7.3%, the most in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. LinkedIn Corp., which trades at more than 760 times reported earnings, increased 4.2%, while Twitter Inc. added 1.7%.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. surged 6.9% as shares of biotechnology companies rallied the most in a year.

Alcoa Inc (AA.N) shot up 3.8% after the aluminum producer's earnings, excluding restructuring charges and other special items, exceeded analysts' expectations.

On the negative side, shares of Intuitive Surgical Inc (ISRG.O) slid 6.8% after the company estimated first-quarter revenue well below analysts' expectations mainly due to a 60% drop in sales of its flagship da Vinci robot system.

Shares of Blackstone-backed hotel chain La Quinta Holdings Inc (LQ.N) made a subdued market debut as investors took the view that the stock was fully priced in a crowded IPO market. The stock closed up 0.7% at $17.12.

In Asia, shares rose on Thursday after the Fed minutes eased concern about the timing of interest-rate increases in the world’s largest economy.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.4% to 139 as of 10:23 a.m. in Hong Kong. Hang Seng Index slid 0.3%. China’s Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.2% and Singapore’s Straits Times Index fell 0.7%.

Japan’s Topix index climbed 0.8%, rising for the first time in five days. South Korea’s Kospi index advanced 0.1%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.5% after the country’s unemployment rate unexpectedly declined in March. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 1%.

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