U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday as the Federal Reserve said economic activity has picked up following a severe downturn, an assessment that suggested the outlook for corporate profits was brightening.

As expected, the Fed's policy-setters kept interest rates unchanged and said they will stay very low for an extended period.

Their statement was a little more upbeat than the last statement, said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer of Johnson Illington Advisors in Albany, New York.

They have signaled that they are going to slow the pace of purchases of mortgage-backed securities and housing agency bonds. That may be construed as the first subtle, and small move toward removing a significant level of stimulus in the system.

The gains took the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> to the verge of 10,000 as investors snapped up shares in some of the sectors that have helped underpin the market's long runup from the 12-year lows of early March.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> jumped 74.29 points, or 0.76 percent, at 9,904.16. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 7.27 points, or 0.68 percent, at 1,078.93. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> shot up 19.55 points, or 0.91 percent, at 2,165.85.

Strength was particularly evident in industrials and technology, with shares of International Business Machines Corp up nearly 1 percent at $122.53, while Apple Inc shot up 2.2 percent to $188.60. The semiconductor index <.SOXX> climbed 2.3 percent.

(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry)