Apple juices Wall St. as indexes climb for another week

By Lewis Krauskopf

(Reuters) – A surge in shares of heavyweight Apple helped push up major Wall Street indexes on Friday, as investors also assessed a mixed U.S. labor market report.

The S&P 500 and Dow industrials recorded their eighth consecutive weeks of gains, while the Nasdaq posted its sixth straight up week, as equities have climbed to record highs.

Shares of Apple <AAPL.O>, the world’s most valuable publicly traded company, rose 2.6 percent as shoppers streamed into the company’s stores to buy its latest iPhone. Apple also gave a better-than-expected sales forecast for the holiday shopping season.

U.S. job growth accelerated in October after hurricane-related disruptions in the prior month, the Labor Department said. But wages grew at their slowest annual pace in more than 1-1/2 years in a sign that inflation probably will continue to undershoot the Federal Reserve’s 2-percent target.

“It kind of confirms this Goldilocks-type scenario where it’s steady growth with really not a lot of inflationary pressure,” said Michael Dowdall, investment strategist at BMO Global Asset Management in Chicago.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 22.93 points, or 0.1 percent, to 23,539.19, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 7.99 points, or 0.31 percent, to 2,587.84 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 49.49 points, or 0.74 percent, to 6,764.44.

Apple was easily the biggest individual boost to the three indexes. The stock also helped boost the tech sector <.SPLRCT>, which climbed 0.9 percent and led all major S&P 500 groups.

“This is obviously the carry-over effect from Apple having a good quarter and a tremendous outlook,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.

All three indexes rose in a week that saw a series of significant events, including the nomination of a new Fed chair and the long-awaited unveiling of a tax-cut bill from U.S. President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans.

In other corporate news, Qualcomm <QCOM.O> shares surged 12.7 percent after reports that Broadcom <AVGO.O> is exploring a deal to buy the smartphone chip maker. Broadcom shares rose 5.4 percent.

Aetna <AET.N> shares rose 2.7 percent after Reuters reported U.S. pharmacy operator CVS Health <CVS.N> and the health insurer are working toward finalizing merger terms and announcing a deal as early as December. CVS shares fell 0.2 percent.

Third-quarter corporate reports also have continued at a heavy pace. With more than 400 of S&P 500 companies having reported, earnings for the quarter are expected to have climbed 8 percent, compared to an expectation of a 5.9 percent rise at the start of October, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

American International Group <AIG.N> shares sank 4.6 percent as investors reacted to a surprise $836 million boost to the insurance giant’s reserves.

Starbucks <SBUX.O> shares rose 2.1 percent following results.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.09-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.02-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

About 6.7 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, above the 6.3 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

(Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Chizu Nomiyama)