Apple profits drive Nasdaq to a 2.3% gain
NEW YORK, United States of America - Blockbuster profits from Apple and a solid showing by Boeing pumped up US markets Wednesday, with a late boost coming from a slightly improved growth outlook from the Federal Reserve.
Apple's shock profits report -- net income in nearly doubled from a year ago to $11.6 billion -- gave its stock an 8.9% boost to drive the Nasdaq market up for a 2.3% gain.
The tech-heavy index finished 68.03 points higher at 3,029.63.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average of blue chips gained 89.16 points (0.69%) to 13,090.72, thanks to Boeing's strong earnings.
The broad-based S&P 500, which includes both Apple and Boeing, gained 18.72 (1.36 percent) to 1,390.69.
Corporate earnings drove trade, with the indices leaping immediately on opening and for the most part holding their gains throughout the session.
There was some selling when the Federal Reserve refrained from any moves to further stimulate economic growth after a policy review.
But bulls moved back in after the Fed released a new growth forecast for the year which was slightly rosier than before: it foresees expansion of 2.4-2.9 percent, without any serious inflation pressure.
"As expected, the Fed's perception of the economic activity improved slightly, but overall the statement remains cautious," said Inna Mufteeva of Natixis.
But mostly it was the earnings that pushed stocks higher.
After the close of trade Tuesday Apple said it had earned a profit of $11.6 billion on revenue of $39.2 billion in the quarter ended March 31. Sales of iPads more than doubled and iPhone sales surged 88 percent.
"Apple stock is now so significant that traders look at it as almost a separate index, a leading indicator for the stock market as a whole," said Dick Green at Briefing.com.
Boeing shares surged 5.3% after the aircraft maker said earnings expanded a strong 58% in the first quarter.
But Caterpillar, another bellwether of the economy, saw its shares slip 4.6% despite better-than-forecast profits. Investors were disappointed that the company missed revenue forecasts, despite a 25% rise.
Dow Chemical gained 4.2% after announcing a dividend increase, while oil company Hess sank 7.0 percent after reporting poor progress in boosting production in its North Dakota fields.
The bond market fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.98% from 1.96% Tuesday, while that on the 30-year Treasury increased to 3.15% from 3.11%. - Agence France-Presse