February 23, 2018 / 7:54 PM / a month ago

US STOCKS-Stocks climb as Fed eases rate concern, tech rises

* Fed sees no risks to change planned pace of rate hikes

* Blue Buffalo soars after General Mills’ $8 bln buyout

* Dow up 0.92 pct, S&P 500 up 1.18 pct, Nasdaq up 1.37 pct

* Dow, S&P still down for the week; Nasdaq edges higher (Updates to mid-afternoon, changes byline)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

Feb 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced on Friday, buoyed by gains in technology stocks and a pullback in Treasury yields as the Federal Reserve eased concerns about the path of interest rate hikes this year.

The central bank, looking past the recent stock market sell-off and inflation concerns, said it expected economic growth to remain steady and saw no serious risks on the horizon that might pause its planned pace of rate hikes.

Investors largely expect the Fed to raise rates three times this year, beginning with its next meeting in March, the first under new Chair Jerome Powell. Traders currently see a 95.5 percent chance of a quarter-point hike next month, according to Thomson Reuters data.

“The Fed has come out and made an announcement basically reinforcing the idea they are still on track for three rate hikes this year, which had been their forecast before we got some of the increased inflation news over the last month,” said Alec Young, managing director of global markets research at FTSE Russell in New York.

“It signals to the markets that while there is increased concern about higher rates and inflation, the Fed has really not seen enough to justify getting much more hawkish.”

Powell’s first public outing will be on Tuesday, when he will testify separately before the House and Senate committees.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 229.23 points, or 0.92 percent, to 25,191.71, the S&P 500 gained 31.89 points, or 1.18 percent, to 2,735.85 and the Nasdaq Composite added 98.50 points, or 1.37 percent, to 7,308.59.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 13/32 in price to yield 2.8714 percent, from 2.917 percent late on Thursday.

The dip in yields helped boost bond proxy sector such as utilities, up 2.20 percent, and real estate, up 1.50 percent.

Tech shares climbed 1.69 percent led by gains in Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which rose 10.2 percent and HP Inc, up 3.2 percent.

The two companies created from the split of Hewlett Packard Co in 2015, reported strong results and HPE also announced a plan to return $7 billion to shareholders.

Blue Buffalo Pet Products jumped 17.23 percent after General Mills said it would buy the natural pet food maker for $8 billion. General Mills was the biggest percentage decline on S&P 500, falling 4.08 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 3.29-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.17-to-1 ratio favored advancers. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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