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By Marcus E. Howard
(Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday as the Federal Reserve was seen refraining from raising U.S. interest rates soon, even as economic data showed the world's largest economy regained speed in the second quarter.
The minutes for the June 14-15 meeting of the U.S. central bank, which took place before Britons voted to leave the European Union, showed widespread unease over the "Brexit" vote, as well as a severe slowdown in hiring by U.S. employers.
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Fed policymakers also said rate hikes should stay on hold until they have a handle on the consequences of Brexit. Since the vote, stocks have been volatile on Wall Street, while investors have driven up safe-haven assets such as gold <XAU=> and yields on long-term U.S. debt <US30YT=RR> have fallen to record lows.
"The money that you’re seeing deployed in the U.S. in my view is a repercussion of people looking to buy the oasis of growth and safe havens in the world, and that is the U.S.," said Nate Thooft, U.S.-based co-head of global asset allocation at Manulife Asset Management in Boston.
Adding to the view of persisting lower rates, Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo said on Wednesday no rate hikes are needed until inflation is more solid.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 78 points, or 0.44 percent, to 17,918.62, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 11.18 points, or 0.54 percent, to 2,099.73 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 36.26 points, or 0.75 percent, to 4,859.16.
Most of the major S&P 500 indexes were higher, led by a 1.2 percent rise in healthcare <.SPXHC>. Merck's <MRK.N> 2.0 percent rise and Celgene's <CELG.O> 4.3 percent rise were its biggest boosts.
Facebook <FB.O> rose 2.4 percent to $116.70 and provided the biggest boost to the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.
The S&P energy index <.SPNY> gained 0.6 percent as oil prices <CLc1> <LCOc1> rose more than 2 percent on the back of robust U.S. economic data.
About half of the 22 U.S. companies expected to top 2016 consensus earnings per share estimates by at least 10 percent are energy names, according to Goldman Sachs research.
Among the day's decliners, DuPont Co <DD.N> dropped 1.8 percent to $61.85 after a U.S. jury ordered the company to pay $5.1 million to a man who said he developed testicular cancer from exposure to a toxic chemical used to make Teflon. Dupont's spinoff Chemours Co <CC.N> will pay damages, and the stock slumped 22.5 percent to $5.93.
Walgreens Boots Alliance <WBA.O> fell 2.4 percent to $81.55 following results and comments from its CEO that it is bracing for a long period of volatility following the Brexit vote.
U.S. services industry activity hit a seven-month high in June as new orders surged and companies hired more workers, suggesting the economy regained speed in the second quarter.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.8-to-1 ratio and on the Nasdaq a 1.64-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 55 new 52-week highs and three new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 61 new highs and 52 new lows.
About 7.4 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, compared with the 7.72 billion daily average over the past 20 sessions.
(Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian and James Dalgleish)