Wall St rises after Fed rates held again

US stocks rose yesterday after the US Federal Reserve said it will keep interest rates near zero and ahead of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address tonight.

But the Nasdaq got a late surge from of almost one per cent in the shares of Apple after the iPad’s debut.

Market analysts said the Fed’s decision was not surprising, but the somewhat more optimistic tone of its statement shifted sentiment after a wave of unexpected news from Washington the past two weeks caused the stock market to buckle.

“The market rallied because there wasn’t anything overtly negative that could be taken from the Fed statement,” said Michael James, senior trader at regional investment bank Wedbush Morgan in Los Angeles.

“We’ve been hit by so many negative bits of news [lately], whether from Washington or China, that there was some relief that there wasn’t anything overtly negative that could be construed from the Fed statement.”

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 41.87 points, or 0.41 per cent, to end at 10,236.16. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 5.33 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 1,097.50. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 17.68 points, or 0.80 per cent, to 2,221.41.

After the closing bell, Qualcomm tumbled 8.9 per cent to $43.00 after the biggest maker of cellphone chips cut its revenue estimate for the first quarter and current fiscal year, citing a slow economic recovery.

During the regular session, Apple’s shares rose 0.9 per cent to $207.88, reversing course from a drop of more than three per cent earlier in the day after the firm unveiled its iPad tablet computer.

The Nasdaq also got a boost from Gilead Sciences, which jumped 7.1 per cent to $48.04 after the biotech company posted fourth-quarter earnings that topped Wall Street’s estimates and forecast a sales increase of about 10 per cent for 2010. The NYSE Arca Biotech index gained 1.3 per cent.

Boeing was the Dow’s top advancer, up 7.3 per cent at $61.93 after the world’s second-largest aircraft manufacturer reported stronger-than-expected quarterly results and forecast a profitable 2010.