Wall Street ekes out gains, Apple cuts revenue forecast after the bell

New York, NY, USAUpdated: Jan 03, 2019, 07:06 AM IST

File photo. Photograph:(Reuters)

Story highlights

Apple dropped 8 per cent in extended trading late in the day after the iPhone maker slashed its outlook for the December quarter, blaming weak demand in China.

Wall Street edged higher on Wednesday after stumbling out of the starting gate on the first trading day of 2019, while fears of a global economic slowdown were exacerbated after Apple cut its holiday-quarter revenue forecast.

Apple dropped 8 per cent in extended trading late in the day after the iPhone maker slashed its outlook for the December quarter, blaming weak demand in China.

Shares of Apple's suppliers also fell, and S&P 500 futures dropped 1.3 per cent, signalling that Wednesday's modest advance could unwind when the market reopens on Thursday.

"To see Apple's sales drop off this much says something about the Chinese economy," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York. "Any company that does business in China will feel the impact of this."

Stocks had started the session lower after separate reports showed a deceleration in factory activity in China and the euro zone, indicating the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China was taking a toll on global manufacturing.

Energy stocks led the S&P 500's advance and the sector was the index's biggest percentage gainer, buoyed by a 2.4 per cent jump in crude prices. The group was the worst performing S&P sector in 2018.

Gains were offset by healthcare and so-called defensive sectors, such as real estate, utilities and consumer staples. Healthcare companies provided the biggest drag on the S&P 500 and the Dow.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 18.78 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 23,346.24, the S&P 500 gained 3.18 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 2,510.03 and the Nasdaq Composite added 30.66 points, or 0.46 per cent, to 6,665.94.

Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, seven closed in positive territory.

Banks got a boost from Barclays, as the broker wrote in a research note that the sector could outperform the S&P this year. The Dow Jones Industrial average was led higher with gains from Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan.

Tesla Inc delivered fewer-than-expected Model 3 sedans in the fourth quarter and cut US prices. The electric automaker's shares slid 6.8 per cent.

General Electric Co jumped 6.3 per cent in heavy trading as bargain hunters bought the stock in the wake of its over 50-per cent plunge in 2018.

In the coming weeks, the fourth-quarter reporting period will get underway. Analysts see S&P 500 companies posting profit gains of 15.8 per cent, significantly smaller than the third quarter's 28.4 per cent advance.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.10-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.42-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and 4 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 9 new highs and 58 new lows.

Volume on US exchanges was 7.80 billion shares, compared to the 9.18 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.