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U.S. markets today (Wednesday) rose sharply after the conclusion of the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) June meeting. As expected, the Fed announced it would taper another $10 billion from its monthly bond-purchasing program and that interest rates would remain low in order to incentivize job development and economic growth.
Here's the scorecard from today's trading session:
DOW: 16,906.62 (+0.58%)
S&P 500: 1,956.99 (+0.77%)
NASDAQ: 4,362.84 (+0.59%)
And here are the top stories that affected the U.S. markets today:
- A New Kid in Town: This afternoon, Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos announced the release of its newest device, Fire Phone. The device features a new operating system, on which developers can create apps and features. The phone also provides unlimited photo storage and access to its streaming music service for Prime members. With a two-year contract, the phones are priced at either $199 for 32 GB, or $299 for 64 GB. Shares of Amazon rose more than 2.5% on the news.
- A Smartphone Partnership: The same day that Amazon unveiled its own smartphone, it announced a partnership with BlackBerry Ltd. (Nasdaq: BBRY) to enable the development of more apps on its rival's smartphones and tablets. The agreement will allow Blackberry to add another 240,000 apps. BlackBerry shares rose more than 3.8% on news of the partnership and announcement of the BlackBerry 10.3 operating system, set for release this fall.
- The Evacuation Begins: As geopolitical tensions continue to swell in Iraq, the nation's South Oil Company announced that Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) has begun a "major evacuation" of company personnel. According to Reuters, the company evacuated 20% of its staff. Meanwhile, it's unclear whether other large oil service companies like Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB) or Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) will do the same.
- The Solution – More Taxes: Thanks to failure to reign in wasted spending and encouraging no-bid contracts, the U.S. Highway and Bridge Fund is going broke. As a result, two U.S. senators proposed a hike in the federal gasoline and diesel fuel taxes by $0.12 a gallon over the next two years. The national gasoline tax currently sits at $0.184 per gallon, with a diesel tax of $0.244 per gallon. Neither has changed since 1993 due to the political sensitivity of such a proposal.
- Poaching from Rivals: Anyone looking to make the leap from PC to Mac will have a chance to do so on the cheap. Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) introduced a 21.5-inch iMac desktop that is designed for entry-level users. The cost of this new computer begins at $1,099. The $200 discount for an all-in-one device requires users to accept a slower processor and reduced hard-drive space.
Now our experts share some of the most important investment moves to make based on today's market trading – for Money Morning Members only: