Apple's best trading day since 2022 leads Wall Street rally

The iPhone-maker's shares jumped 6% after announcing its mega $110bn share buyback programme

US First Lady Jill Biden visited the New York Stock Exchange last week. Technology stocks helped fuel a rally on Friday to cap off an uneven trading week. AP
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Apple shares rose 6 per cent on Friday, leading a technology rally on Wall Street to end an uneven trading week on a high note as investors responded to positive US economic data.

The iPhone-maker's stock closed at $183.38 after it announced its largest share buyback programme, worth $110 billion, on Thursday, after reporting an annual drop in its March quarter net profit and revenue.

That marked the best daily rise in the Cupertino, California-based company's share price since it posted a nearly 9 per cent surge on November 10, 2022, and the highest since November 30, 2022.

Shares of Apple, however, are still down about 1 per cent so far in 2024.

Still, investors are looking forward to Apple's announcement on its plans for generative artificial intelligence at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, which would boost market sentiment, Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote Bank, wrote in a note.

“What investors now expect is plans and projects regarding how Apple will integrate AI into its devices and catch up with its AI delay. Good news is, because Apple is not seen as a cutting-edge technology company – but also a luxury brand – any promising step in AI could get a decent leverage from the company’s high brand value,” she said.

“Therefore, if investors are convinced that Apple has a robust AI plan, we could see a positive reaction.”

Chipmaker Nvidia and Microsoft, two leading players in the generative AI race, closed up 3.5 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively.

That helped Wall Street indices pull into the black at the close on Friday. The S&P 500 rose 1.3 per cent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 1.2 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite gained 2 per cent.

For the week, the S&P was up 0.5 per cent, the Dow rose 1.1 per cent and the Nasdaq climbed 1.4 per cent. Year-to-date, they are up 7.5 per cent, 2.6 per cent and 7.6 per cent, respectively.

Investors also welcomed the latest US job gains, which once again smashed expectations in the face of the Federal Reserve's high interest rates.

US employers added 303,000 jobs in March, up from a downwardly revised 270,000 job gains the previous month, the Labour Department reported on Friday.

The Fed on Wednesday kept US interest rates unchanged after a string of data indicated a “lack of further progress” in the central bank's fight to restore price stability.

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell “surprised the bond market positively again”, but “in slight contrast, Powell expressed his confidence that inflation would slow over time, opening the room for rate cuts”, said Markus Allenspach, head of fixed income research at Swiss bank Julius Baer.

“We agree that there is room for lower inflation and rate cuts in the medium term, but we prefer to wait for hard evidence. In other words, we do not follow the Fed chair’s lead to focus on untested, private sector data.”

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.5 per cent to post a record at the close on Friday, with home builder stocks leading gains.

Elsewhere, Paris's CAC 40 ended 0.5 per cent higher, while Frankfurt's DAX added 0.6 per cent.

In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 1.5 per cent, while stock markets in Tokyo and Shanghai were closed for a holiday.

In commodities, oil prices gave up gains on Friday and posted a weekly loss on fuel demand concerns and prospects of higher-for-longer interest rates.

Brent shed 0.85 per cent to settle at $82.96 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate retreated 1.06 per cent to close at $78.11 a barrel.

Gold, meanwhile, slid to a one-month low despite the US jobs data and easing geopolitical pressures.

The precious metal, considered a safe haven against inflation, was virtually flat at $2,308.60, but still recorded its second straight weekly decline.

Updated: May 04, 2024, 6:09 AM