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US: Apple juices Wall St as indexes climb for another week

[BENGALURU] A surge in shares of heavyweight Apple helped push up major Wall Street indexes on Friday, as investors also assessed a mixed US 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, the world's most valuable publicly traded company, rose 2.6 per cent 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.

US 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-per cent target.

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"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 rose 22.93 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 23,539.19, the S&P 500 gained 7.99 points, or 0.31 per cent, to 2,587.84 and the Nasdaq Composite added 49.49 points, or 0.74 per cent, to 6,764.44.

Apple was easily the biggest individual boost to the three indexes. The stock also helped boost the tech sector, which climbed 0.9 per cent 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 US President Donald Trump's fellow Republicans.

In other corporate news, Qualcomm shares surged 12.7 per cent after reports that Broadcom is exploring a deal to buy the smartphone chip maker. Broadcom shares rose 5.4 per cent.

Aetna shares rose 2.7 per cent after Reuters reported US pharmacy operator CVS Health and the health insurer are working toward finalizing merger terms and announcing a deal as early as December. CVS shares fell 0.2 per cent.

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 per cent, compared to an expectation of a 5.9 per cent rise at the start of October, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

American International Group shares sank 4.6 per cent as investors reacted to a surprise US$836 million boost to the insurance giant's reserves.

Starbucks shares rose 2.1 per cent 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 US exchanges, above the 6.3 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

REUTERS

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