Technology stocks pushed the S&P 500 and Nasdaq higher on Thursday, driven by Apple shares as Apple became the first publicly traded U.S. company worth a trillion dollars.
Apple extended its post-earnings rally, gaining 2.9 percent and pushing its market value across the trillion-dollar threshold.
The smartphone maker led the S&P technology index 1.4 percent higher, the largest percentage gainer among the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500.
Among the other members of the so-called FAANG group of momentum stocks, Facebook rose 2.7percent, Alphabet was up 0.7 percent, Netflix gained 1.8 percent and Amazon advanced 2.1 percent.
The tech sector’s gain helped offset escalating trade tensions, as China urged the United States to “calm down” after Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he had been directed to increase previously proposed tariffs on Chinese imports. At a news briefing, China’s foreign ministry spokesman called the United States’ tactics “blackmail.”
Trade-sensitive industrial companies, including Boeing and Caterpillar, helped drag the blue-chip Dow slightly lower.
Shares of Tesla rose 16.2 percent after quarterly results convinced investors of future profitability and Chief Executive Elon Musk apologized for his behavior on the previous earnings call.
For the second-quarter reporting season, 79.7 percent of the 380 companies in the S&P 500 that reported so far have exceeded consensus estimates, according to Thomson Reuters data.
DowDuPont’s earnings exceeded consensus estimates for the fourth straight quarter, driven by price increases and strong demand. But its shares were down 2.2 percent after the company warned of rising raw materials costs.
Cisco announced it would acquire venture capital-backed cyber security firm Duo Security for $2.35 billion in cash. Cisco stock rose 1.6 percent on the news.
Approximately 6.66 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 6.25 billion-share average over the past 20 trading days.
Jobless Claims Rise
The number of new claims for unemployment benefits rose less than expected last week, pointing to sustained strength in the labor market despite trade tensions.
According to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday morning, initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased by 1,000 claims to a seasonally adjusted 218,000 claims for the week ended July.
Claims fell to 208,000 claims during the week ended July 14, which was the lowest reading since December 1969.
The labor market has remained robust despite trade tensions between the United States and its major trade partners.
The Labor Department said only claims for Maine were estimated last week. The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 3,500 to 214,500 last week, the lowest reading since mid-May.
Last week’s claims data has no bearing on July’s employment report, which is scheduled for release on Friday, as it falls outside the survey period.
The unemployment rate is forecast falling one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.9 percent in July. Job growth averaged 215,000 per month in the first half of this year and the labor market is viewed as being near or at full employment.
The claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 23,000 to 1.72 million in the week ended July 21. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims slipped 4,500 to 1.74 million.
Factory Orders Rise
New orders for rose for a second straight month in June, although business spending plans for equipment were not as strong as initially thought, suggesting a further slowdown was likely in the third quarter.
According to the Commerce Department, factory orders increased 0.7 percent, due in part to strong demand for transportation equipment, electrical equipment, appliances and components as well as computers and electronic products. Factory orders increased by an unrevised 0.4 percent in May.
June’s increase in factory orders was in line with consensus expectations. Orders increased 8.0 percent on a year-on-year basis in June.
However, there are signs that manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of GDP, is starting to slow as rising shortages of workers and import tariffs put pressure on the supply chain.
An Institute for Supply Management survey of manufacturers published on Wednesday indicated a decline in production in July, with nearly all industries stating that workers were scarce and that raw material prices had gone up due tof tariffs on steel, aluminum and other imported products.
In June, orders for transportation equipment increased 2.1 percent, boosted by a 4.2 percent jump in the volatile orders for civilian aircraft. Transportation orders fell 1.3 percent in May. Orders for motor vehicles rose 0.9 percent in June.
Orders for machinery were unchanged in June. There were decreases in orders for primary metals and fabricated metal products.
The Commerce Department also stated that June orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, which are a measure of business spending plans, rose 0.2 percent instead of increasing 0.6 percent as reported last month. Orders for these so-called core capital goods climbed 0.7 percent in May.
Shipments of core capital goods, which are used to calculate business equipment spending in the gross domestic product report, increased 0.7 percent in June instead of rising by 1.0 percent as reported last month. Core capital goods shipments edged up 0.1 percent in May. Business spending on equipment slowed in the second quarter.
Apple Cracks $1 Trillion in Market Valuation
Apple became the first $1 trillion publicly listed U.S. company on Thursday, crowning a decade-long rise fueled by its ubiquitous iPhone that transformed it from a niche player in personal computers into a global powerhouse spanning entertainment and communications.
The tech company’s stock rose 2.9 percent to end the day at $207.39, giving it a market capitalization of $1.002 trillion. During the session, Apple’s stock market value reached as much as $1.006 trillion.
Apple has rallied about 9 percent since Tuesday, when it reported June-quarter results above expectations and said it bought back $20 billion of its own shares. It was Apple’s best-two-day run since April 2014.
Started in the garage of co-founder Steve Jobs in 1976, Apple has pushed its revenue beyond the economic outputs of Portugal, New Zealand and other countries. Along the way, it has changed how consumers connect with one another and how businesses conduct daily commerce.
Apple’s stock market value is greater than the combined capitalization of Exxon, Procter & Gamble, and AT&T. It now accounts for 4 percent of the S&P 500.
Apple has surged more than 50,000 percent since its 1980 initial public offering, dwarfing the S&P 500’s approximately 2,000-percent increase during the same almost four decades.
One of three founders, Jobs was driven out of Apple in the mid-1980s, only to return a decade later and rescue the computer company from near bankruptcy.
He launched the iPhone in 2007, dropping “Computer” from Apple’s name and super-charging the cellphone industry, catching Microsoft, Intel, Samsung Electronics and Nokia off guard. That put Apple on a path to overtake Exxon in 2011 as the largest U.S. company by market value.
During that time, Apple evolved from selling Mac personal computers to becoming an architect of the mobile revolution with a cult-like following.
Jobs, who died in 2011, was succeeded by Tim Cook, who has doubled the company’s profits but struggled to develop a new product to replicate the society-altering success of the iPhone, which has seen sales taper off in recent years.
In 2006, the year before the iPhone launch, Apple generated less than $20 billion in sales and net profit just shy of $2 billion. By last year, its sales had grown more than 11-fold to $229 billion – the fourth highest in the S&P 500 – and net income had mushroomed at twice that rate to $48.4 billion, making it the most profitable publicly-listed U.S. company.
Apple’s stock has risen over 30 percent in the past year, fueled by optimism about the iPhone X, launched a decade after the original. Also propelling Apple higher in recent months was Apple’s announcement that it earmarked $100 billion for a new share repurchase program.
In its report on Tuesday, Apple sales led by the iPhone X, which sells for about $1,000, pushed quarterly results far beyond Wall Street targets, with subscriptions from App Store, Apple Music and iCloud services bolstering business.
Even with trillion-dollar stock market value, many analysts do not view Apple’s shares as expensive. Shares of Apple this week traded at about 15 times expected earnings, compared to Amazon at 82 times earnings and Microsoft at 25 times earnings.
Adjusting for four stock splits over the years, Apple debuted on the stock market for the equivalent of 39 cents a share on Dec. 12, 1980, compared to Thursday’s high of $208.38.
In 2015, Apple joined the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Since 1980, IBM, Exxon, General Electric and Microsoft have also alternated as the largest publicly listed U.S. company.
In 2007, Chinese government-controlled PetroChina briefly reached a stock market value of about $1.1 trillion following its public listing in Shanghai. It is now worth about $200 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.
One of five U.S. companies since the 1980s to take a turn as Wall Street’s largest company by market capitalization, Apple could lose its lead to the likes of Alphabet or Amazon if it does not find a major new product or service as global demand for smartphones loses steam.
Hot on Apple’s heels is Amazon, the second-largest listed U.S. company by market value, at around $880 billion, closely followed by Alphabet and by Microsoft.