Apple juices Wall St. as indexes climb for another week

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.

The Wall Street sign is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange, March 26, 2009. REUTERS/Chip East/Files

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.

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