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Apple shares surge on iPhone sales while stock indexes remain mostly flat

Wall Street
U.S. flags fly in front of the New York Stock Exchange.
(Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

Investors didn’t react much to a strong hiring survey or the Federal Reserve’s decision to leave interest rates alone Wednesday, and U.S. stocks finished little changed. Apple shares soared after the company said iPhone sales improved in its latest quarter.

Stocks jumped in morning trading after payroll provider ADP said hiring by private employers grew stronger in January. Bond prices climbed. But the market’s gains later thinned, partly because investors sold shares of companies that pay big dividends as bond yields rose.

Stocks briefly turned higher after the Fed’s announcement, but that also faded. The only constant was the big gain for Apple.

The Federal Reserve left its key interest rate unchanged, just as investors expected. The central bank noted that the job market is getting stronger and inflation is gradually rising, but said it wants more time to monitor the economy.

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That’s what investors expected. Kate Warne, an investment strategist for Edward Jones, noted that the central bank just raised rates in December and the Trump administration’s spending and fiscal plans still haven’t been spelled out.

“They’ll wait until they actually know what’s going to happen,” she said of future interest rate moves by the Fed.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 26.85 points, or 0.1%, to 19,890.94. The Standard & Poor’s 500 inched up 0.68 of a point to 2,279.55. The Nasdaq composite, which has a high concentration of technology companies, climbed 27.86 points, or 0.5%, to 5,642.65. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slipped 0.60 of a point to 1,361.23. Most stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange fell.

Apple jumped 6.1% to $128.79, its biggest one-day gain in six months, after it reported first-quarter profit and sales that were better than analysts expected. The company said consumers snapped up its new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, ending the first-ever slump in iPhone sales. Apple was single-handedly responsible for the Dow gain.

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Read more: Apple reversed its iPhone slump. But what’s next? »

Investors haven’t focused on company earnings recently because of the flood of political news and other factors, but Warne said results like Apple’s will help the market.

“The fact that we’re seeing solid earnings and they’re coming in better than expected will help sustain stocks over time,” she said.

Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices reported a profit when analysts expected a loss, and its sales were greater than expected. Its stock leaped 16.3% to $12.06.The ADP jobs survey was better than expected, and the construction, manufacturing, healthcare and shipping industries all added jobs at a solid pace. The U.S. government will release its own monthly jobs report Friday.

Read more: U.S. businesses add most jobs in seven months, ADP says »

Investors reacted to the hiring report by selling bonds, which are relatively safe investments that are in greater demand when the economy seems weaker. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.48% from 2.44%.

Stocks that pay large dividends slid as bond yields rose. Dominion Resources, which released a weak quarterly report, dropped 5.8% to $71.85.

U.S. crude climbed $1.07, or 2%, to close at $53.88 a barrel in New York. U.S. oil has stayed between roughly $52 and $55 a barrel for the last two months. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, rose $1.22, or 2.2%, to $56.80 a barrel in London.

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The S&P 500’s energy company index fell for the fifth day in a row. It’s down almost 3.5% over that time and has sunk 7% since Dec. 13.

Arconic surged 11.2% to $25.28 after the lightweight aluminum products maker’s largest shareholder said the company needs new leadership. Elliott Management nominated five potential directors to Arconic’s board. The company said it stands by Chief Executive Klaus Kleinfeld and that Elliott’s moves are not in the best interest of all shareholders. Since Arconic split from Alcoa on Nov. 1, Arconic stock has been almost flat and Alcoa has jumped almost 70%.

The dollar rose to 113.09 yen from 112.76 yen. The euro fell to $1.0744 from $1.0803.

Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents, or 1.9%, to $1.58 a gallon. Heating oil added 4 cents, or 2.6%, to $1.67 a gallon. Natural gas rose 5 cents, or 1.6%, to $3.17 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold slipped $3.10 to $1,208.30 an ounce. Silver lost 9 cents to $17.45 an ounce. Copper fell 2 cents to $2.71 a pound.

Stocks in Europe got a boost from the U.S. hiring survey and a report that said manufacturing in China grew in January at its fastest pace in two years. Heavy government spending and more lending by banks helped keep the economy steady. Germany’s DAX climbed 1.1% while the CAC 40 of France rose 1%. The FTSE 100 index in Britain ticked up 0.1%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.6% after Tuesday’s skid. The Kospi in South Korea climbed 0.6%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.2%.

ALSO

U.S. businesses add most jobs in seven months, ADP says

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UPDATES:

2 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment. 

8:25 a.m.: This article was updated with market prices and context.

This article was originally published at 7 a.m.


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