Wall Street surges on Apple results

on April 25 2012 10:56 AM

Wall Street jumped on Wednesday after forecast-beating results from Apple cleared away a weeks-old market overhang and lifted optimism in an earnings season already far outstripping expectations.

Quarterly profit at Apple Inc almost doubled after a jump in iPhone sales. The stock, which dominates U.S. markets because of its size, had sold off recently, partly on fears earnings could disappoint.

Apple shares jumped 10 percent to $615.40 and could propel the market back to 2012 highs hit earlier this month. The Nasdaq soared almost 2 percent at the open.

It's another amazing quarter from Apple that is single handedly driving markets this morning, wrote Peter Boockvar, an equity strategist and portfolio manager at Miller Tabak in New York in a note.

The earnings season so far has been stronger than expected. With results from 153 S&P 500 companies, more than three-fourths have topped estimates, according to Thomson Reuters Proprietary Research as of Tuesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 95.67 points, or 0.74 percent, at 13,097.23. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> put on 17.14 points, or 1.25 percent, at 1,389.11. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> soared 66.77 points, or 2.25 percent, at 3,028.37.

It has been a long time since I've seen one earnings report be so meaningful for the market, said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management of Apple's earnings.

The fact that they weren't the negative surprise that so many people feared will be a huge relief to this market and really could provide the impetus to bring it back to those previous highs.

Durable goods orders for March fell 4.2 percent in the biggest decline in three years in the latest report to show signs of softness in U.S. economic data, a worrying trend for investors.

This will create doubts about the strength of the recovery and reinforce the bears, said Jim Awad, managing director at Zephyr Management in New York. Today will be a tug-of-war between doubts about economic strength and good earnings.

The S&P 500 has fallen as much as 4.2 percent after jumping about 30 percent from October to a 2012 peak in April. Fears of a resurgent debt crisis in Europe have been one of the main drivers of the pullback.

The cost to insure Spanish and Italian government debt against default fell as debt markets in the two countries looked more stable than in previous days, with traders citing buying from short-term investors.

The Federal Reserve will end a 2-day meeting later Wednesday. Fed officials may appear slightly more upbeat on the economy, but investors should not mistake cautious optimism for a desire to raise interest rates soon.

Also on the earnings front, two Dow components reported. Boeing Co posted higher quarterly profit and raised its earnings forecast for the year, sending the shares up 4.1 percent to $76.29.

Caterpillar Inc said profit rose 29 percent, but its shares fell 2.7 percent to $105.52 after sales missed estimates. The stock's dip held back the Dow.

(Reporting by Krudy; additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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