Wall Street didn't even wait for the Federal Reserve to make its decision to raise interest rates today, lifting stock prices before the announcement, then pushing them higher after the Fed boosted its benchmark rate by a quarter of a point to 1.5 percent.

More important to investors than the Fed's perfectly predicted decision was the reassurance that economic policy makers aren't worried about the recent slowdown in the economy and intend to stay the course by slowly bringing rates back to normal levels.

Acknowledging that "output growth has moderated and the pace of improvement in labor market conditions has slowed," the Fed blamed both on the recent jump in energy prices.

"The economy nevertheless appears poised to resume a stronger pace of expansion," said the Fed's assessment of the economy.

Ordinarily, investors worry that higher interest rates will slow economic growth, but not now. The increase is not expected to pinch at all because businesses are borrowing so little and rates are still so low -- the lowest since the early 1960s.

The Fed repeated its intent to bring rates back to more familiar levels "at a pace that is likely to be measured."

Banks automatically raised their prime rate in response to the Fed's move. That will mean higher rates for the many home equity loans that are tied to the prime and on the less common credit cards linked to that index.

Home mortgage rates have gone down recently and are not expected to rise much. Seeing no threat to the housing industry, investors actually bid up homebuilding stocks today, with shares of NVR Inc., the biggest locally-based builder, rising $6.75, or 1.4 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 130 points to close at 9,944.67.

The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index climbed 34 points to 1,808.70.

The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index was up nearly 14 points at 1,079.04.

The market's response amounted to a round of applause for the Fed's decision, although not necessarily an endorsement of its view of the economy.

Many Wall Street economists are much more pessimistic about the prospects for economic growth in the next few months. That view is reflected in stock prices, which even before today's big gains were at their low for the year.

Nor are the markets convinced that record high energy prices are, as the Fed put it, "transitory." Today crude oil prices climbed past $45 a barrel for the first time ever, before falling back to $44.52 at the close of trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.