US stocks close lower on post-holiday return as Apple fall offsets gains by oil, retailers

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 7.85 points lower at 24,746.21, while the broader S&P 500 lost 2.84 points at 2,680.50, and the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index shed 23.71 points at 6,936.25
Stock prices
Apple shares dropped 4.4% following several reports indicating weak demand for its new iPhone X model
  • Dow Jones closes nearly 8 points lower at 24,746

  • Apple shares drop on iPhone X demand worries

  • Retailers gain on holiday sales hopes

  • US crude touches US$60 a barrel

US stocks closed lower on Tuesday after a subdued first session back after the holidays, with gains by retailers and oil countered by weakness in technology giant Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 7.85 points lower at 24,746.21, while the broader S&P 500 lost 2.84 points at 2,680.50, and the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index shed 23.71 points at 6,936.25.

The main drag was a big fall by Apple shares which dropped 4.4% to US$170.57 following several reports indicating weak demand for its new iPhone X model.

But retailers were broadly higher after a report from Mastercard said that holiday spending by rose more than expected to the fastest pace of growth since 2011. Department stores group Kohl's Corp. (NYSE:KSS) gained nearly 6% and Macy's Inc.(NYSE:M) was up 4.6%.

Meanwhile, energy stocks were up after US crude-oil prices rose 2.6%,to US$59.97 a barrel, briefly touching US$60 the highest level since late June 2015.

On currency markets, the US dollar edged lower versus most major rivals in low volumes with European markets closed for Boxing Day.

And Bitcoin saw a modest rebound, trading back around US$16,000 after seeing its value tumble by more than a third since hitting an all-time high near US20,000 on December 17.

Lunchtime update:

US blue chips dropped lower after a flat start on the first session after the holidays, weighed by falls from technology giant Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).

Around lunchtime, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 31 points lower at 24,723, while the tech-laden.Nasdaq Composite Index lost 22 points at 6,938.

Apple shares were down around 2.7% at US$170.35 following several reports indicating weak demand for its new iPhone X model.

The tech stock's sell-off came despite a positive cover story from Barron's suggesting that the company could achieve a US$1trn market value in 2018.

Shares of numerous Apple suppliers suffered too with Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) down 4%, while Cirrus Logic Inc. (NASDAQ:CRUS) shed 1%, and Universal Display Corp. (NASDAQ:OLED) dropped 3.5%.

But on the upside, retailers were enjoying a bit of a bounce after reports of a srong rise in holiday period dsales according to a report from Mastercard Inc.

Macy’s Inc. (NYSE:M) shares were up nearly 5%, and Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE:KSS) gained nearly 6%.

Meanwhile, economic data showed that S&P Case-Shiller 20-city home-price index was up 6.4% from year ago in October.

Opening report:

US stocks were mixed in early trading after the long holiday break, with blue chips ticking higher but technology stocks coming under pressure as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares declined

After half an hour of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 5 points higher at 24,759, but the tech-laden.Nasdaq Composite Index shed 36 points at 6,923.

Apple shares were down over 2.5% after some of the iPhone maker’s suppliers declined in Taiwan following a report of tepid iPhone X demand.

In a holiday shortened week, with European markets closed on Tuesday in observance of Boxing Day., volumes may stay low given many traders may stay away until after New Year.

Market Preview:

US stock indexes were expected to just edge higher in the first session after Christmas following modest falls last Friday, with technology stocks coming under pressure as shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) fell.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down around 55 points, or 0.2%, to 24,711.

With European markets still closed for the post-Christmas Boxing Day holiday, Asian markets were equally subdued on Tuesday, with Chinese stocks managing some gains, but Japan’s Nikkei 225 index ending modestly lower.

There was little reaction to North Korea’s latest sabre-rattling, with the belligerent country calling the latest United Nations sanctions against it "an act or war" on Sunday, and vowing to continue to bolster its nuclear arsenal.

On Friday, the UN Security Council voted to ban 90% of crude oil and fuel exports to the rogue nation, and restricted money earned by workers abroad from being sent back to the country. The sanctions came in response to North Korea's continuing ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests.

On Wall Street, technology giant Apple shed over 2% after the iPhone maker’s suppliers declined in Taiwan over a report of tepid iPhone X demand.

Elsewhere, in a late Christmas gift to shareholders, Sucampo Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:SCMP) saw its shares jump 5% in post-Christmas pre-market trading after the biopharmaceutical company agreed to a US$2.1bn takeover by Mallinckrodt PLC (NYSE:MKN)..

In another post-Christmas deal, Hubbell Inc. (NYSE:HUBB) has agreed to buy Aclara Technologies LLC an infrastructure solutions provider to water, gas and electric utilities - an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners Inc. - for US$1.1bn in cash.

Retail focus

Stores groups will also be in focus after data showed US retail sales rose at their best pace over the holiday period since 2011, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks both online and in-store spending, fueled by high consumer confidence and a robust job market.

Sales, excluding automobiles, rose 4.9% from November 1 through to Christmas Eve, compared with a 3.7% gain in the same period last year, according to the Mastercard, with e-commerce continuing to drive the gains, rising by18.1%.

Retailers benefited this year from Christmas Day falling on a Monday, giving shoppers a full weekend to pick up last-minute purchases, with December 23 ranked next to Black Friday in terms of spending, according to Mastercard.

On currency markets today, the dollar was little changed in quiet market conditions.

Bitcoin, however, bounced back above $15,000 on Tuesday, after some pullback over Christmas, with futures prices also recovering.

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