December 18, 2014
Wall Street ends mixed as Apple weighs on Nasdaq
US stocks ended mostly down today, as a decline in Apple shares dragged the Nasdaq lower and investors held off on big bets before the European Central Bank's upcoming policy meeting.
Apple shares slid 4.2 percent to $98.94 in their worst percentage decline since Jan. 28. At least one brokerage mulled downgrading the stock as Apple grappled with a possible security breach of its iCloud service a week before the launch of its new iPhone.
Rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, meanwhile, launched a virtual reality headset for its new Galaxy Note 4 phablet using technology from Oculus VR, a company that Facebook Inc acquired for $2 billion.
Apple's decline weighed on the technology sector, which lost 0.7 percent and was the worst performing of the 10 major S&P groups. It also weighed down the benchmark S&P index, which had hit a record intraday high of 2,009.28 earlier in the day but finished nearly unchanged.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 10.72 points, or 0.06 percent, to 17,078.28. The S&P 500 ended down 1.55 points, or 0.08 percent, at 2,000.73. The Nasdaq Composite lost 25.62 points, or 0.56 percent, to end at 4,572.57.
Stocks had gained earlier after officials from Ukraine and Russia said they were close to an agreement to stop fighting in eastern Ukraine, but confusion lingered as Russia announced plans to carry out military exercises.
The latest data pointed to continued recovery in the economy. New orders for manufactured goods increased a record 10.5 percent in July, and August auto sales were unexpectedly strong, due in part to heavy discounting.
Housing stocks were weak, weighed down by a 4.7 percent decline in Toll Brothers to $33.95 after the largest US luxury homebuilder posted quarterly results. The PHLX housing index lost 1.6 percent.
Meanwhile, European shares rose and a key index climbed to a two-month high on speculation about a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and more stimulus from the European Central Bank.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed 0.7 percent higher at 1,385.49 points, having earlier hit its highest level since July 7 at 1,391.56 points.
The euro zone blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 rose 1.2 percent at 3,218.84 points.
Shares in Russia-exposed companies were among the top gainers.
Austrian lender Raiffeisen Bank International, which relies heavily on Russia for profits, and Danish brewer Carlsberg, which has a large exposure to the country through its Baltika brand, rose 6.2 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.
Sentiment on the broader market was also underpinned by speculation that the ECB, due to hold a policy meeting on Thursday, might launch an asset-purchase programme, or quantitative easing (QE), after several recent reports signalled the region's economy was slowing further.
Markit's Composite Purchasing Managers' Index showed euro zone business grew at the slowest rate this year in August as escalating tension between Russia and Ukraine curbed spending and investment.