The Federal Reserve has announced bold, open-ended steps to stimulate the US economy and reduce high unemployment, saying it will spend $US40 billion ($38 billion) a month to buy mortgage-backed securities for as long as necessary.
After trading flat before the Fed’s announcement, US stocks surged to multi-year highs and Australian stocks are set to follow. The Dow and the S&P 500 both closed at their highest levels since December 2007, while the Nasdaq ended at the highest since November 2000.
The US dollar fell, oil prices rose and gold hit a six-month high, and the Aussie dollar shot higher to $US1.0543, its highest level since August 10. Locally, the futures market is pointing to gains of about 0.75 per cent when the market opens.
The central bank also extended a plan to keep short-term interest rates at record lows - close to zero - until mid-2015, or six months longer than it had planned. And it said it’s ready to take other steps even after the economy improves under a ‘‘highly accommodative stance of monetary policy’’.
The plan
‘‘The idea is to quicken the recovery,’’ Fed chairman Ben Bernanke later told a news conference. But he made it clear he thinks the economy will need the Fed’s intervention even after the recovery strengthens, saying the country’s employment situation ‘‘remains a grave concern’’.