Wall Street at fresh record highs as Fed begins tapering

US stocks closed their fourth consecutive days of new record highs, the longest stretch since October of 2017.

It came as the US Fed announced the beginning of its Treasury tapering program, slashing purchases of government bonds by US$15bn a month from the current US$120bn a month.

The US central bank also said it will keep the 0% to 0.25% federal funds rate target unchanged, and will be “patient” in raising rates.

The statement also said the bank was able to withdraw the stimulus because it had “achieved a substantial further progress” towards its twin goal of maximum employment and inflation average of 2%.

The decision was largely consistent with economists’ expectations.

All three US stockmarket benchmarks closed at record levels – with the Dow Jones rising by 0.65%, the S&P 500 climbing 0.37%, and tech heavy Nasdaq up by 1.04%.

In corporate news, Ford’s monthly vehicles sales dropped 4% while its EV sales nearly tripled to a monthly record, and up 195% since last year.

In other markets, the spot iron ore price regained 3.4% overnight, and is now just touch under US$100 at US$99.70/t.

Oil prices are down 3% ahead of the Opec+ meeting on Thursday US time.

To cryptos, where Bitcoin is trading steady at US$62,900 at 8am AEDT, slightly down from US$63,000 level yesterday.

US investment bank giant Goldman Sachs thinks the price of Ethereum (ETH) could rise to US$8,000 before the end of 2021, describing the cryptocurrency as a viable hedge against inflation.

Read all about that here on Stockhead.

ASX 200 to open higher on Thursday

The ASX 200 looks set to open higher this morning, with futures markets (December contracts) pointing up by 0.50% at 8:30am AEDT.

Yesterday, local stocks closed higher by 0.93%, highlighted by another broad-based rally in the lithium sector, as a number of stocks rallied strongly.

On the IPO front, set to list today is Vulcan Steel (ASX:VSL), a steel distributor which has no relation to the “other” Vulcan.

In large caps news this morning, Afterpay (ASX:APT) shareholders have approved the issuance of Square stocks to Afterpay shareholders, effectively approving the acquisition by Square announced in August.

5 ASX small caps to watch today

Medlab Clinical (ASX:MDC)

The US patent office has granted patent protection for MDC’s Nanocelle. The NanoCelle technology creates water-soluble nanoparticles that optimise medicinal spray delivery to the lungs. It’s ideal for people who have difficulties swallowing,  fear needles, or experience gastrointestinal complications which can limit absorption.

hipages Group (ASX:HPG)

hipages has acquired a 25% interest in Bricks + Agent for $6.25m. Bricks + Agent is one of Australia’s leading property management technology platforms, with 360k users,and a pipeline of almost 500k properties under management. The investment will give hipages exposure to Bricks + Agent’s user and tradie base, and the $21bn Australian property management market.

Peppermint Innovation (ASX:PIL)

The Philippines based fintech company announced the commercial launch of its bizmoPay micro-enterprise loan platform. The ‘phase 1’ commercial launch of bizmoPay now allows any of bizmoto’s 56,000 agents to access any of three bizmoPay micro-loan products via its mobile bizmoto App.

Douugh (ASX:DOU)

Fintech Douugh has partnered with Railsbank to roll out its responsible ‘financial super app’ into key global markets starting in Australia, followed by the UK, Europe, and Southeast Asia. The partnership will enable Douugh to offer traditional banking services alongside its global partnership with Mastercard.

Minerals 260 (ASX:MI6)

The company commenced the inaugural drilling program at its 100%-owned Moora Project in WA. The 3,500m diamond core drilling program is MI6’s first, following its demerger from Liontown Resources and a $30M IPO listing in October.

At Stockhead we tell it like it is. While Peppermint Innovation is a Stockhead advertiser, it did not sponsor this article.