Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week the Fed could unwind its $85 billion per month quantitative easing program by the middle of 2014. Equity markets were jolted by the plan, just the mention of which sparked a widespread increase in interest rates.
New York Fed President William Dudley, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart and Jerome Powell a Federal Reserve governor, made soothing remarks Thursday that seemed to calm fears the Fed could undo stimulus measures before the economy has steadied itself.
Dudley said any change in the Fed's overnight lending rate "is likely to be a long way off," MarketWatch reported.
"In particular, the reaction of the forward and futures markets for short-term rates appears out of keeping with my assessment of the Fed's intentions, given its forecasts," Powell said in a speech in Washington.
All three major boards made headway on Wall Street Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average added 114.35 points, 0.77 percent, to 15,024.49. The Nasdaq gained 25.64 points, or 0.76 percent, to close at 3,401.86. The Standard & Poor's 500 added 9.94 points, or 0.62 percent, to 1,613.20.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,633 stocks advanced and 486 declined on a volume of 3.3 billion shares traded.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index added 2.96 percent, 379.54 points, to close at 13,213.55.
Britain's FTSE 100 index rose 1.26 percent, adding 77.92 points to 6,243.40.
The 10-year treasury note rose 17/32 to yield 2.477 percent.
On currency markets, the euro fell to $1.3038. Against the yen, the dollar was lower at 98.34 yen.
Gold, particularly vulnerable to a Fed policy shift, dropped sharply, giving up $30.10 or 2.45 percent to $1,199.80 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Comex division.
In after-hours trading, crude oil prices climbed to $96.85 per barrel on the York Mercantile Exchange.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, July corn finished up 4 3/4 cents at $6.69 1/4, November soybeans shed 1 1/2 cents to $12.74 1/2 and wheat for September contracts shed 3 3/4 cents to $6.73 1/4.