How the Fed Pumped Up the Dow This Morning

Throughout the past month, U.S. investors have focused almost exclusively on the fiscal cliff and negotiations to try to keep the U.S. economy from plunging over it. Today, though, the Federal Reserve also hit investors' radar screens as the last Federal Open Market Committee meeting of the year begins to consider future policy. With the Fed's yield-curve-flattening Operation Twist slated to end, its commitment to open-ended stimulative policy could mean further quantitative easing; Bloomberg cites a survey of economists expecting the Fed's balance sheet to reach nearly $4 trillion. Combine Fed stimulus with some positive behind-the-doors views on how fiscal-cliff negotiations are going, and you have a recipe for a big market rally. That's what we've seen this morning, with the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) up 103 points as of 11 a.m. EST. Broader market measures are up even more, with the Nasdaq gaining more than 1%.

Among individual Dow stocks, gains were broad-based, with 28 of the 30 components rising. Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) led the way with a 3% rise after releasing details for a new process to make mobile-device chips. With designs that reduce the size of chip circuits, Intel can boost speed and make components easier to fit in mobile applications. The move could finally help Intel compete better against rivals that have beaten it in the mobile space.

3M (NYSE: MMM  ) has jumped nearly 2%. The company will give its 2013 outlook on a conference call tomorrow morning, but investors seem to be getting an optimistic head-start. 3M arguably stands to benefit greatly from better economic conditions, as its innovation has historically allowed it to find an edge against less inventive competitors.

Finally, Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) has gained more than 1%. Analysts continue to pore through the company's recent deal with Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX  ) to stream Disney's content, with Fool contributor Anders Bylund noting that Lucasfilm will likely end up exclusive to Netflix as well once Disney's acquisition of the Star Wars studio is complete.

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