Apple lifts Wall Street, passes trillion-dollar mark

Apple shares closed above $US207 and have risen more than 21% this year.
Frost Investment chief investment officer Tom Stringfellow says high earnings are being rewarded in stock gains.

For a period of just seven seconds at 11.48am, 49 Apple trades with a total volume of nearly 6100 shares at $207.05 pushed the iPhone maker past the trillion-dollar mark.

The historic milestone for a US company was confirmed at the close, with Apple rising 3.0% to $US207.39.

The $US1.002 trillion market capitalisation is based on its most recent share count of 4.83 billion on July 20 (recent share buybacks may amend this figure).

The stock has risen more than 21% so far this year, its latest rally coming after it reported strong revenue and profit gains on Tuesday.

Apple's iPhone gave birth to the smartphone era and helped lift other tech giants. Smartphones drive mobile advertising businesses at Google and Facebook, and account for an increasing share of the e-commerce transactions where Amazon is dominant.

These four stocks along with Microsoft collectively account for nearly 15% of the total value of the S&P 500. Amazon is at $US875b, Google parent Alphabet at $850b and Microsoft at more than $800b.

Other tech stocks rose, including car maker Tesla and software company Global Payments, which both reported upbeat results.

Dow drops on trade tensions
The S&P 500 rose 0.5% to 2827.22 after recouping an earlier decline of as much as 0.3% while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite surged 1.3% to 7802.69.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average eased 7.66 points or 0.03%, to 25,236.16 as trade-sensitive stocks such as Boeing pulled it lower.

“Earnings have been ratcheting higher the past few weeks, helping investors to look past any trade issues,” Frost Bank chief investment officer Tom Stringfellow, says. “Those that are reporting good results are being rewarded.”

About 73% of the nearly 400 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported have beaten earnings expectations while 59% have seen stock prices move higher.

Tesla jumped 12% after it reassured investors it would achieve a profit later this year and said sales of Model 3 cars helped it burn less cash than expected.

Global Payments added 5.3% after it reported profit and sales ahead of analysts’ expectations, as well as the acquisition of software provider AdvancedMD.

In commodities, oil futures finished higher, reversing earlier declines as data showed a dip in US stockpiles.

US crude rose 1.9% to settle at $US68.96 a barrel while Brent, the global benchmark, gained 1.5% to $US73.45.

Gold falls to one-year low
Gold futures closed at a more-than-one-year low of $US1220.10 an ounce. 
Gold, which hasn’t ended a session at a level this low since July 2017, has now posted losses in five out the past six sessions.

In money markets, US government bonds bounced pulled back after topping 3% on Wednesday.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note eased to 2.984% from 3.001%.

Earlier, the Bank of England lifted its key interest rates, as expected, a day after the Federal Reserve issued its latest policy update.

The US market is awaiting a closely watched employment report due on Friday.

Elsewhere, stocks retreated after the Trump administration threatened to increase proposed tariffs on $US200 billion of Chinese goods.

The Stoxx Europe 600 dropped 0.8% to fall for a second consecutive session. France’s CAC 40 fell 0.7%, Germany’s DAX plunged 1.5% and the UK’s FTSE 100 lost 1.0%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index declined 2% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 2.2%. Japan’s Nikkei and South Korea’s Kospi slumped 1% and 1.6%, respectively.