The U.S. stock market held on to gains in the afternoon session as the Federal Reserve pledged to keep the federal funds rate low for an extended period, calming fears the Fed Reserve would take a more hawkish stance.

The S&P 500 Index is up 4.25 points, or 0.38 percent, to trade at 1,154.87 at 2:48 pm EST.  The Dow Jones industrial Average is up 6.35 points, or 0.06 percent, to trade at 10,648.50.  The Nasdaq Composite is up 0.29 percent.

Tuesday also marks the the first time in recent sessions that the S&P 500 sustained a rally above 1150, the previous 2010 high and a technical resistance. 

As expected, Bernanke and his colleagues left the federal funds rate unchanged. 

In the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement released at 2:15 pm EST, they said that economic conditions, including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations, are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period.

Like the last meeting, Thomas M. Hoenig was the lone dissenting vote.  Hoenig was against the Fed Reserve expressing the expectation of exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period.

The Fed stated that the economy is continuing its recovery.  However, areas of concern include deteriorating conditions in commercial real estate and bank lending.

The market is also relieved that Standard & Poor's, the rating agency, decided not to downgrade Greece's debt.