Stocks Up After Fed Decision

U.S. stocks rose Wednesday, driving the Dow to yet another record close, as a jump in the shares of Altria Group (MO) offset worries about the outlook for Boeing Co. (BA) and General Motors (GM) Corp.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 6.80 points, or 0.06 percent, to close at a record 12,134.68. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 4.84 points, or 0.35 percent, to finish at 1,382.22. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 11.75 points, or 0.50 percent, to close at 2,356.59.

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A sharp rebound in crude oil prices, which ended above $61 a barrel, gave investors a reason to buy the shares of energy companies. The stock of Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) gained 1.6 percent, or $1.12, to $71.01, helping boost both the Dow and the S&P 500.

The Dow climbed to 12,147.97 — another record intraday high — shortly after the Federal Reserve announced its decision to keep its benchmark interest rate steady at 5.25 percent and said inflationary pressures are likely to decrease. Then the Dow headed lower once more, only to edge higher right near the close of trading.

"The first major uptick in oil prices in quite some time can't be ignored by the stock markets," said Jim Awad, chairman of Awad Asset Management, in New York. "As for earnings, we had some worries with GM and Boeing, but a handful of companies released positive news."

Shares of Altria Group Inc. rose 2.9 percent, or $2.28, to $82.10 on the New York Stock Exchange. The company said Wednesday it is comfortable enough with the U.S. legal environment to "move forward" with the spinoff of its Kraft Foods Inc. unit, although it said it will wait until the end of January to announce the timing of the spinoff.

Kraft shares dipped 0.06 percent, or 2 cents, to $35.34.

Boeing shares fell 3.3 percent, or $2.73, to $80.86 on the NYSE after the jet plane manufacturer, which also is the No. 2 U.S. defense contractor, announced a charge that nudged down the top end of its full-year 2006 earnings forecast.

GM's shares fell 4.1 percent, or $1.48, to $34.71 as investors looked past a rise in quarterly operating profit and out to 2007 and beyond when GM's financial comparisons will be tougher.

U.S. crude oil for December delivery surged $2.05 to settle at $61.40 per barrel on Wednesday after data showed a surprising drop in crude supplies and a larger-than-expected fall in product stockpiles in the latest week.

Helping the Nasdaq, online retailer (AMZN) reported stronger-than-expected earnings, driving up its shares and those of other Internet companies such as Google (GOOG) Inc. .

Shares of jumped 12 percent, or $4.05, to $37.68 on the Nasdaq after the company's profit and revenue beat analysts' estimates.

Google's stock gained 2.8 percent, or $13.29, to $486.60 on Nasdaq, after earlier hitting an all-time high of $488.50.

Shares of electronics retailer RadioShack fell 7.7 percent, or $1.45, to $17.45 on the NYSE after the company posted a quarterly loss, hit by higher costs and lower wireless sales.

Volume was heavy on the NYSE, where about 1.83 billion shares changed hands, above last year's daily average of 1.61 billion. On the Nasdaq, about 2.16 billion shares were traded, above last year's daily average of 1.80 billion.

Gainers outnumbered decliners on the Big Board by about 2 to 1. On the Nasdaq, about 7 stocks rose for every 5 that fell.

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