Stocks rise on Fed; Qualcomm, Whole Foods up late

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) ended a volatile session modestly higher on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve detailed a plan to breathe new life into the struggling economy.

Both the Dow and Nasdaq closed at levels not seen since 2008 while the S&P ended at a six-month high. The gains were preceded by an erratic session in which equities zigzagged up and down as the Fed announced a plan to buy $600 billion in Treasuries. The size of the plan was greater than had been anticipated but less than many hoped.

“The question is whether this is enough. The consensus was $500 billion over the next six months or so. This is just a little bit ahead,” said Jeff Kleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial, Boston.

The S&P has risen about 14 percent since the start of September as investors bet on the Fed’s action and Republican gains in Tuesday’s elections, two suppositions that came to pass and ended some of the market’s uncertainty.

The CBOE Volatility index (.VIX: ), a favored gauge of investor anxiety, fell 9 percent after rising earlier. The change in direction “indicates… that traders feel the Fed support under the market remains firm and that we are likely to see higher highs in the stock benchmarks,” said Jon Najarian, a co-founder of web information site in Chicago.

Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O: ) rose 8.3 percent to $49.49 in extended-trading after it reported fourth-quarter revenue that beat expectations.

Whole Foods Market Inc (WFMI.O: ) rose 8 percent to $44.34 after the market’s close on a higher-than-expected profit.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) was up 26.41 points, or 0.24 percent, at 11,215.13. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX: ) was up 4.39 points, or 0.37 percent, at 1,197.96. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) was up 6.75 points, or 0.27 percent, at 2,540.27.

The Nasdaq ended at its highest since June 2008 while the Dow closed at its highest since September 2008. The S&P 500 closed at its best level in six months.

The S&P 500 broke through its 200-week moving average, which was seen signaling further gains.

The Republicans’ strong gains in the election, including regaining control of the House and increasing their numbers in the Senate, would be more business friendly, investors said.

In company news, both Aetna Inc (AET.N: ) and WellPoint Inc (WLP.N: ) rose after posting higher-than-expected quarterly earnings and raising their full-year profit views. Aetna rose 2.9 percent to $30.48 while WellPoint was up 0.5 percent to $56.05.

But Time Warner Inc (TWX.N: ) fell 1 percent to $32.07 after the media company reported its third-quarter results.

Housing stocks also fell after PulteGroup Inc (PHM.N: ) posted an adjusted third-quarter loss that widened from the prior year. The stock lost 7.7 percent to $7.45.

In economic news, the U.S. services sector grew more quickly than expected in October and factory orders posted their largest gain in eight months. A separate report showed U.S. private employers added more jobs than expected in October.

Volume was light, with about 6.92 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, below the year-to-date daily average of 8.73 billion.

About eight stocks rose for every seven that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, while on the Nasdaq, about seven stocks rose for every six that fell.

(Additional reporting by Doris Frankel; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

Stocks rise on Fed; Qualcomm, Whole Foods up late