TORONTO -- Stock markets across North America surged for a second straight day Thursday as investors continued to take comfort with signs that the U.S. Federal Reserve is in no hurry to speed up the pace of rate hikes.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index jumped 86.36 points at 14,797.18, as higher oil prices helped boost the energy sector, which led the market's gains.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 98.76 points at 18,392.46, while the broader S&P 500 index added 14.06 points at 2,177.18.

The Nasdaq composite hit a record high for a second session, gaining 44.34 points at 5,339.52.

On Wednesday following a two-day meeting, the Fed announced that it will continue to stand pat on interest rates until it believes the U.S. economy is strong enough to support an increase.

It also hinted that it will likely raise rates this year because the U.S. job market has strengthened and economic activity has picked up even though business investment is soft and inflation remains low.

The central bank said risks to its economic outlook are "roughly balanced" -- marking the first time it has used that wording since last December, when it most recently raised rates.

But what has buoyed investors is that the Fed also gave the impression that it does not intend to expedite the pace of hikes once they do begin.

"(They're) signalling the amount of rate hikes in the future through 2017 and 2018 will likely be reduced as they continue to wait and see the impact of their policy on economic development," said Kathryn Del Greco, an investment adviser with TD Wealth.

"That just calmed the initial nerves in the marketplace trying to digest what impact a rising interest rate world will actually bring. It does certainly appear that they (rates) will definitely be lower for longer."

She said that Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen has always been fairly transparent about the fact that she is in no rush to raise rates, and such a move will be completely dependent on economic indicators.

The rally in recent days has been a good sign for stock markets, which are historically negative for the month of September.

Del Greco added that the low interest rates have also been a positive for commodities, including oil, gold and metals. However, the U.S. dollar has not followed suit, weakening following the Fed announcement. This, along with climbing oil prices, helped drive the Canadian dollar up 0.26 of a cent at 76.56 cents US.

Commodities were mostly higher, with the November crude oil contract gaining 98 cents at US$46.32 per barrel, December gold contracts increasing by US$13.30 at US$1,344.70 per ounce and the December contract for copper up four cents to $2.19 a pound.

The October contract for natural gas fell seven cents to US$2.99 per mmBtu.

With files from The Associated Press