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Huge Apple spike lifts NASDAQ: Morning market insights

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The New York Stock Exchange rose overnight as the NASDAQ had its biggest gain of 2012 when Apple’s earnings doubled. All 10 industry sectors in the S&P 500 finished higher.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said the US central bank could add more stimulus if necessary, after leaving its policy unchanged overnight. He upgraded his view of the US economy.

“We remain prepared to do more as needed to make sure that this recovery continues and that inflation stays close to target,” Bernanke said following a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee. He said bond-buying was “very much on the table”.

“The Fed is providing an insurance policy to the economy,” Ann Miletti, senior portfolio manager for Wells Fargo Advantage Funds, told Bloomberg. “There’s a sense that things are improving, yet there’s some instability. The Fed is saying that it will be there to help keep things going. Earnings have been strong. The market likes it.”

The S&P500 Index gained 1.36% to 1390.69 overnight.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was also up 0.69%, or 89.16 points, to 13090.70.

The NASDAQ Index gained a solid 2.30%, or 68.03 points, to finish at 3029.63.

The world’s most valuable company, Apple (APPL: US) jumped 8.9%, or $55.71. Chinese consumers bought about 20% of the 35.1 million iPhones sold by Apple last quarter.  CEO Tim Cook said there was “a lot more opportunity” for the company in China.

Energy stocks rallied after post-Fed meeting comments about continued signs of economic growth. Exxon Mobil (XOM: US) finished up 0.63% to $US86.85. The world’s biggest oil company will increase its quarterly dividend to $0.57 a share from $0.47 – up 21%. It is the 30th consecutive year Exxon Mobil has increased its dividend to shareholders.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil fell 0.14% to $US103.97 a barrel overnight.

Gold was up 0.14% to be trading at $US1644.60 an ounce.

The Australian dollar was up overnight, buying $US1.03645 at 8.05am AEST.

Europe

European share markets gained overnight after good news in the US, despite the UK economy slumping into a double-dip recession. The decline in economic activity is the first double-dip since 1975, triggering debate over whether the Bank of England should extend its £325 billion ($AU507 billion) quantitative easing program: the new term for printing more money.

Ros Altmann, director general of over-50s insurance group Saga, urged the Bank of England to end the money-printing policy. Some argue the policy has impoverished pensioners by lowering annuity rates and weakening the British pound.

“QE has failed,” Altmann said. “It must end. There are better ways to stimulate the economy. Indeed, QE has harmed rather than boosted growth.”

But Azad Zangana, an economist at Schroders, said it will be remarkable if the bank did not respond by printing more money.

The London FTSE 100 closed up 0.16% to 5718.89.

The German DAX gained 1.73%, or 114.09 points, to 6704.50.

The European Stoxx50 index gained 1.70% to 2322.91.

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