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US: Stocks rally; Apple hits all-time high


[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks rallied Tuesday, with tech giant Apple hitting an all-time high and investors applauding encouraging earnings from Coca-Cola and other upbeat company news.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 139.55 points (0.79 per cent) to 17,868.76.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 21.85 (1.07 per cent) at 2,068.59, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index surged 61.63 (1.30 per cent) to 4,787.64.

Apple, the largest US company by market capitalization, leaped to a record high close on the US tech giant's gains in the smartphone market, expansion of its mobile payments and its soon-to-arrive smartwatch.

Shares rose 1.9 per cent to close at US$122.02, lifting Apple's market value to US$710 billion, the first company to hit the US$700 billion milestone close.

JetBlue Airways announced it would be the first major domestic carrier in the US to accept Apple Pay, Apple's mobile payment tool, in-flight. JetBlue rose 2.1 per cent.

First Solar jumped 4.8 per cent after announcing that Apple agreed to commit US$848 million for solar energy to power its data centers.

Dow member Coca-Cola rose 2.8 per cent as fourth-quarter earnings translated into 44 cents per share, two cents above analyst estimates.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts added 6.6 per cent as fourth-quarter earnings soared 82.8 per cent to US$234 million. Starwood also announced it would spin off its time-share business into a separate publicly traded company.

Chipmaker Qualcomm rose 4.7 per cent following news it will settle an antitrust probe in China. Qualcomm will pay US$975 million and modify its business practices in the country. A note from Deutsche Bank said the agreement removes a major overhang from the stock.

General Motors added 4.2 per cent as it disclosed that it received notice from a consortium of hedge funds seeking US$8 billion in share repurchases. The shareholders also put forward Harry Wilson as a nominee to the GM board. GM said it would evaluate the candidacy of Wilson, who worked on the Obama administration's auto task force that helped with the automaker's bankruptcy restructuring.

Online listings and review site Yelp rose 5.9 per cent after announcing it would acquire Eat24, an online food ordering service with access to about 20,000 restaurants across the US. The transaction is valued at US$134 million.

Martin Marietta Materials, which sells concrete and other building materials, surged 15.2 per cent as fourth-quarter earnings jumped 78 per cent to US$64 million.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury advanced to 1.99 per cent from 1.96 per cent Monday, while the 30-year rose to 2.58 per cent from 2.54 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.