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HomeTop Global NewsA perfect day for markets and a falling Apple

A perfect day for markets and a falling Apple

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., holds an iPhone 15 Pro Max during an event at Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California, US, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. 

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

This report is from today’s CNBC Daily Open, our new, international markets newsletter. CNBC Daily Open brings investors up to speed on everything they need to know, no matter where they are. Like what you see? You can subscribe here.

What you need to know today

Exuberant stocks
U.S. stocks enjoyed a broad rally Thursday, with all 11 S&P 500 sectors ending the day in positive territory. Bond yields declined. Europe’s regional Stoxx 600 climbed 1.58%, juiced by a 3% increase in auto stocks and 2.7% jump in technology stocks. Separately, Wegovy-manufacturer Novo Nordisk posted record profits and sales for its third quarter.

Apple’s not growing
Apple shares slipped around 3.5% in extended trading after the technology giant reported earnings. Even though Apple’s fiscal fourth-quarter results beat expectations for sales and earnings per share, investors were dismayed the company’s overall sales fell for the fourth quarter in a row — and that it may not return to growth in the holiday quarter. But Apple’s still huge, with $162.1 billion in cash on hand.

Loosening labor market
Unit labor costs in the U.S., a measure of hourly compensation against productivity, fell 0.8% during the July-to-September period. Economists had been expecting an increase of 0.7%. Separately, initial filings for unemployment benefits for the week ended Oct. 28 increased 5,000 from the previous week. That points to a moderating jobs market — what the Federal Reserve wants to see for inflation to subside.

Bank of England pauses too         
The Bank of England kept its main interest rate unchanged at 5.25%, but said “monetary policy is likely to need to be restrictive for an extended period of time.” In other words, the BoE’s following the U.S. Federal Reserve’s playbook of keeping higher-for-longer rates. The central bank projects U.K. gross domestic product to remain flat in the third quarter and grow by 0.1% in the fourth quarter.

[PRO] Putting your chips
Two hot semiconductor stocks reported earnings this week, and both saw huge gains after their reports. But, according to CNBC Pro’s analysis of put and call volumes of those two stocks, options traders only see one of them surging sustainably, while the other will falter.

The bottom line

It was an astounding day for markets, with everything falling into place as perfectly as investors could have hoped for. Then the Apple fell from the tree, rather imperfectly.

The positives, first. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury dropped around 12 basis points to touch 4.661%. That’s a drastic fall from around three weeks ago, when the Treasury breached the 5% level.

Falling bond yields benefit stocks in two ways: They create less incentive for investors to park their money in fixed income, driving them back to riskier assets like stocks. They also lower the cost of borrowing in the economy, potentially stimulating growth, which, ultimately, drives stocks higher. (Though not always — investors seemed spooked by the incredible GDP print of the U.S. last quarter.)

Additionally, there were signs inflation in the U.S. was tapering off. Labor costs actually fell for a three-month period ending September — compared with an expected increase — while unemployment claims ticked up. Those statistics are likely to reassure the Fed the labor market isn’t heating up again, for now.

Stocks soared on those developments. The S&P 500 popped 1.89%, its best day since April and the first time since February the index has gained more than 1% consecutively. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.7%, the highest daily gain since June. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.78% for a five-day winning streak and its best session since July.

All indexes are on pace to post a weekly increase of around 5%.

But before investors celebrate prematurely, there’s Apple results to digest. Even though the company beat earnings and revenue expectations, its hardware business, outside the iPhone, has been struggling for over a year. Apple, with a market capitalization of $2.77 trillion, is the S&P’s biggest constituent. A tiny move in Apple’s shares will have an outsized impact on the index — and it’s already dropped around 3.5% in extended trading.

The October jobs report, out later today, will be another high-impact event for markets. Economists are expecting an increase of 170,000 payrolls. Any number drastically higher could move stocks markedly lower. We’re coming off a string of positive events, but sentiment is still fragile. One bad apple could ruin the whole meal.

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