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Stocks end day with strong gains on Fed minutes

An American flag flies in front of the

An American flag flies in front of the New York Stock Exchange on Oct. 8, 2014. Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan

Signs that the Federal Reserve would keep interest rates low for several more months pushed stocks broadly higher on Thursday, adding to what has been a near eight-day rally. Energy stocks advanced with the price of oil.

At the end of trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 138.5 points, about 0.8 percent, at 17,050.8. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 17.6 points, about 1 percent, to 2,013.4. The Nasdaq composite rose 19.6 points, about 0.4 percent, to 4,810.8.

CRUDE ENERGY: The price of oil rose Thursday as the dollar weakened, making oil more attractive to overseas buyers, and on concerns that Russia's military actions in Syria raised the threat of a wider conflict in the region. As markets closed, the price of U.S. benchmark crude oil rose $1.81 cents, about 3.8 percent, to $49.62 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

FED MINUTES: Stocks spent most of the morning little changed, but moved steadily higher after investors had a chance to work through the minutes from the Fed's September policy meeting.

In the minutes, Fed officials expressed confidence that the U.S. economy was improving, citing the improving job market. But policymakers had concerns that inflation continues to remain abnormally low, noting the recent drop in commodity prices, which were a major reason why the Fed did not raise interest rates.

The Fed has kept interest rates near zero for nearly seven years now. The Fed has repeatedly signaled it wants to raise interest rates, but it has held off on doing so.

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