Apple Surges on iPhone Sales; Stock Indexes Wobble

(AP) -

Investors didn’t react much to a strong hiring survey or the Federal Reserve’s decision to leave interest rates unchanged Wednesday, and U.S. stock indexes finished pretty much where they started. Apple soared after it said iPhone sales improved in its latest quarter.

Stocks jumped in morning trading after payroll provider ADP said hiring by private employers grew stronger in January. Bond prices climbed. But the market’s gains thinned, partly because investors sold shares of companies that pay big dividends as bond yields rose.

Stocks briefly turned higher after the Fed’s announcement, but that also faded. The only constant was the big gain for Apple, which pushed technology companies higher.

The Federal Reserve left its key interest rate unchanged, just as investors expected. The central bank noted that the job market is getting stronger and inflation is gradually rising, but said it wants more time to monitor the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 26.85 points, or 0.1 percent, to 19,890.94. The Standard & Poor’s 500 inched up 0.68 points to 2,279.55. The Nasdaq composite, which has a high concentration of technology companies, gained 27.86 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,642.65. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks dipped 0.60 points to 1,361.23. Most stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange fell.

Apple made its biggest one-day jump six months after its first-quarter profit and sales were better than analysts expected. The company said consumers snapped up its new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and that ended the first-ever slump in iPhone sales. Apple stock rose $7.44, or 6.1 percent, to $128.79. Apple was singlehandledly responsible for the Dow gain and it helped take technology stocks higher.

Investors reacted to the hiring report by selling bonds, which are relatively safe investments that are in greater demand when the economy seems weaker. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.48 percent from 2.44 percent.

Oil prices stayed within a small range. U.S. crude added $1.07, or 2 percent, to close at $53.88 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, gained $1.22, or 2.2 percent, to $56.80 a barrel in London. U.S. oil has stayed between roughly $52 and $55 a barrel for the last two months.

The S&P 500’s energy company index fell for the fifth day in a row. It’s down almost 3.5 percent over that time and has sunk 7 percent since Dec. 13.

The dollar rose to 113.09 yen from 112.76 yen. The euro fell to $1.0744 from $1.0803.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $1.58 a gallon. Heating oil added 4 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $1.67 a gallon. Natural gas rose 5 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $3.17 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The price of gold slipped $3.10 to $1,208.30 an ounce. Silver lost 9 cents to $17.45 an ounce. Copper fell 2 cents to $2.71 1 pound.

Stocks in Europe got a boost from the hiring survey and a report that said manufacturing in China grew at its fastest pace in two years in January. Heavy government spending and more lending by banks helped keep the economy steady. The FTSE 100 index in Britain picked up 0.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 percent after a skid on Tuesday. The Kospi in South Korea jumped 0.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.2 percent.