The market is up 47. SFE Futures were up 33 this morning.

Dow Jones up 207. The Dow was up 240 at best and down 8 at worst. The Nasdaq hit its highest level since December 2000. Volumes were strong with 8.14bn shares traded which is above the 2011 daily average of 7.84bn.

US markets rallied at around 12:30pm when the FOMC surprised the markets by announcing a new limitless quantitative easing program that will focus on the purchasing of US$40bn worth of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) per month. The QE3 program is open-ended, which allows the Federal Reserve to terminate it once the employment picture shows substantial improvement. The program will commence tomorrow in the US and can be increased with additional asset purchases if required. “If the outlook for the labour market does not improve substantially, the FOMC will continue its purchases of agency MBS, undertake additional asset purchases, and also employ its other policy tools as appropriate until such improvement is achieved in a context of price stability.” Gold up $34.00.

The QE3 program does not stop Operation Twist which continues. Operation Twist will finish at the end of 2012.

The Federal Reserve released its latest economic projections. The 2012 GDP growth expectation has been lowered, while the outlook for 2013 and 2014 was raised. 2012 GDP is now expected to be between +1.7% to +2.0%, which is lower than the previous forecast of between +1.9% and +2.4%. 2013 GDP growth is now expected to be between +2.5% and +3.0% while the previous forecast suggested growth expectations between +2.2% and +2.8%. The Fed also extended its forward interest rate guidance saying rates will likely remain at exceptionally low levels through at least mid-2015.

Metals mixed — Copper was down 0.26%, Nickel up 0.62%, Aluminium up 0.92% and Zinc up 0.88%. Iron Ore price down $2.00 to $96.10.

  • Fortescue Metals (FMG) — Is in critical negotiations with lenders asking them to waive their debt covenants for the next 12 months to help give the company financial breathing room. FMG is in a trading halt until Tuesday.
  • Newcrest Mining (NCM) — Production at Cadia Valley underground gold and copper mine in central western NSW has been suspended due to an equipment failure. NCM is up 5.8% to 3798c.
  • Leighton Holdings (LEI) subsidiary Thiess has won a $154m contract by Transport NSW to build a walkway through Sydney’s CBD to the new Barangaroo development. LEI is up 2.7% to 1542c.
  • Crown (CWN) announced the successful completion of their subordinated notes offer raising $532m.
  • Rio Tinto (RIO) says they are going ahead with the expansion of their mineral sands operations and plan to invest US$826m over 5 years. RIO is up 2.66% to 5651.5c.
  • Macquarie Group (MQG) — CEO Nicholas Moore says that the Chinese economy will experience a ‘soft landing’ as Beijing moves towards more domestic-driven growth. MQG is up 2.44% to 2894c

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