Wall Street edged up on Thursday as FedEx and GE shares lifted the industrials sector, a day after the Federal Reserve's lowered projection of two interest rate hikes in 2016 pushed the S&P 500 to its highest close this year.
The Dow eked out a small profit for 2016, while the S&P 500 was on the verge of crossing over into positive territory for the year.
Crude prices held onto strong gains as the dollar weakened and the market pinned its hopes on a plan by major oil producers to freeze output to mitigate a global glut.
The Fed, which left rates unchanged, pointed to moderate U.S. economic growth and strong job gains but cautioned about risks from an uncertain global economy. The central bank had laid out four hikes in 2016 when it raised rates in December.
While markets across assets cheered the move, the central bank's dovish tone raised some concerns about the prospects of weakness in the global economy impacting the U.S. economy.
"The market is trying to digest exactly what's going on with the Fed," said John Burke, chief executive of Burke Financial Strategies in Iselin, New Jersey.
"Two patterns are clear (today) - that healthcare stocks are lagging and crude oil is leading - everything else in between, we're all trying to sort it out."
At 12:39 p.m. ET (1639 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 135.98 points, or 0.78 percent, at 17,461.74, the S&P 500 was up 12.41 points, or 0.61 percent, at 2,039.63 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 9.61 points, or 0.2 percent, at 4,773.58.
The S&P healthcare was the only laggard among the 10 major S&P sectors. The sector fell 1.38 percent, dragged down by Eli Lilly's 5.2 percent fall.
Industrials gained 2 percent, propped up by General Electric's 2.9 percent rise to $31.06.
FedEx was up 10.9 percent at $160.01 after the package delivery company forecast better-than-expected full-year earnings. The stock gave the biggest boost to the S&P 500.
Endo International was down 16.1 percent at $28.45, after the drugmaker forecast first-quarter results below estimates.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,367 to 598. On the Nasdaq, 1,656 issues rose and 1,041 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 55 new 52-week highs and five new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 55 new highs and 71 new lows.
(Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)
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Updated Date: Mar 18, 2016 00:15 AM