* Economic data bolsters stocks, weighs on safe-haven U.S.
* U.S. jobless claims drop, China, Europe PMIs positive for
* Apple sell-off weighs on U.S. stocks
* Yen resumes months-long weakening against dollar, euro
By Ellen Freilich and Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, Jan 24 World equity and commodity
markets rose on Thursday on encouraging economic data, but a
steep sell-off in Apple shares that wiped out about $50 billion
of its market value threatened to snuff a six-day streak of
gains in U.S. stocks.
Apple Inc dropped 11.9 percent to $452.62 after the
technology icon missed Wall Street's revenue forecast for a
third straight quarter and threatened to topple it from its
ranking as the most valuable U.S. company.
The strong downdraft from Apple was offset by surprisingly
strong economic signals. U.S. factory activity grew the most in
nearly two years in January and the number of new claims for
jobless benefits dropped to a five-year low last week.
A third report showed the Conference Board's Leading
Economic Index rose last month, pointing to improved U.S. growth
"You have Apple and technology on the one side and the rest
of the market on the other side," said Hugh Johnson, chief
investment officer of Hugh Johnson Advisors LLC in Albany, New
Early U.S. stock gains pushed the S&P 500 above the 1,500
mark for the first time since Dec. 12, 2007 and put the
benchmark index on pace for a seventh straight advance, its
longest winning streak since October 2006. Stocks later pared
some gains, with the S&P falling below the 1,500 mark.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 66.30 points,
or 0.48 percent, at 13,845.63. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 2.46 points, or 0.16 percent, at 1,497.27. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was down 17.66 points, or 0.56
percent, at 3,136.01.
"It's a reach for return in the equities market," said Todd
Colvin, senior vice president of global institutional sales with
R.J. O'Brien & Associates in Chicago. "Risk takers are being
rewarded so far this year."
MSCI's world equity index rose 0.2 percent
to 353.14, lifted by business surveys showing growth in Chinese
manufacturing accelerated to a two-year high in January.
The FTSE Eurofirst 300 index of top European shares
closed up 0.29 percent at 1,171.06 on signs of growth in
Germany, which bolstered expectations that the region's
sovereign debt crisis may be easing.
"The Chinese data bodes well for demand which translates
into top line revenue growth. If global demand goes up, it's
good for U.S. equities," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist
at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey, with more than $1
trillion in assets under management.
U.S. Treasury debt prices slipped after the weekly jobless
data fell to a five-year low, raising hopes of an improving U.S.
labor market and paring safe-haven bets on government debt.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell 7/32 in
price to yield 1.8507 percent, as investors moved funds into
January's flash euro zone purchasing managers index pointed
to more weakness ahead for a region already mired in recession.
But it also hinted at improvement later in the
The growing confidence in the pace of China's economic
recovery helped keep Brent crude oil above $113 a
barrel. Brent settled 48 cents higher at $113.28.
U.S. crude futures rose 72 cents to settle $95.95 a
Gold fell $16.80 to $1,668.30 an ounce.
The yen tumbled against the dollar, snapping a three-day
advance, after a Japanese economic official said the government
has no problem with the dollar hitting 100 yen.
The Japanese currency has weakened to about 90 per dollar
from 80 since November on expectations Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
will force the central bank to ease monetary policy to combat
The dollar was up 1.76 percent at 90.15 against the
yen, while the euro rose 0.42 percent at $1.3372.