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US: Apple lifts Nasdaq as oil shares tumble

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[NEW YORK] Apple shares surged on Wednesday ahead of the launch of new iPhones, while the Dow fell on weakness among petroleum-linked shares.

Apple jumped 3.5 per cent, its third straight gain, a rally sparked in part by bullish statements from Sprint and T-Mobile regarding customer orders of new iPhones, which will be delivered to customers on Friday.

But Dow member Chevron lost 1.0 per cent, while midsized companies Marathon Oil and Devon Energy Corp shed 2.3 per cent after oil prices retreated.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2 per cent to 18,034.77.

The broad-based S&P 500 lost 0.1 per cent at 2,125.77, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.4 per cent to 5,173.77.

Investors were tentative due in part to uncertainty over when the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates, said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial "What we're seeing here is a great deal of caution," he said.

Monsanto shares edged up after it struck a long-discussed deal to be acquired by Germany's Bayer in a transaction worth US$66 billion.

But Monsanto's gain of 0.6 per cent to US$106.76 left shares far below the Bayer all-cash offer of US$128 a share, suggesting the market doesn't believe the deal will go through.

A Morningstar note said the huge difference was due to skepticism the deal will close due to antitrust concerns.

Ford fell 1.9 per cent after projecting that 2017 earnings would decline compared with this year due in part to increased investments in electric cars and autonomous car technology.