Wall Street climbs on Alcoa, Fed

US stocks close higher on strong start to earnings season, Fed minutes.

US stocks have finished higher following a solid kickoff to earnings season from Alcoa and Federal Reserve minutes that signalled low interest rates for a while longer.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 79.15 points, or 0.47%, to 16,985.77.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 9.08 points, or 0.46%, to 1,972.79, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 27.57 points, or 0.63%, to 4,419.03.

Wednesday's gains were a partial bounce-back following two straight days of declines.

Alcoa unofficially kicked off second-quarter earnings season after markets closed on Tuesday with profits of $US138 million ($149m), up from a loss of $US119m a year ago.

The company benefited from lower costs and said aluminium demand was on track to increase seven% in 2014.

Alcoa shares shot up 5.7%.

The minutes of the June meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee showed the central bank plans to end its bond-buying program in October.

But the Fed also expects it would not begin raising its near-zero benchmark interest rate for "a considerable time" after the asset purchase program ends, "especially if projected inflation continued to run below the Committee's two% longer-run goal," the minutes said.

"They still are not in any rush to change monetary policy," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital.