By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks edged higher at midday on Wednesday as a rebound in Apple’s stock offset declines in energy shares.
Apple shares were up 1.6 percent, boosting the benchmark S&P 500 index and Nasdaq, after at least six brokerages raised their price targets on the stock. On Tuesday, Apple shares had ended lower after the company launched the iPhone 6 and introduced a new product, the Apple Watch.
“I think the bullish analyst comments and the impact of Apple Pay, iWatch when it eventually comes out and the positive feature from the iPhone 6 are making people realize, at least for today, it’s still a name that likely has more upside than downside from here. It continues to be an underweight name for most institutional investors,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.”
Energy shares were lower, following another decline in oil prices. Exxon Mobil fell 1 percent. [O/N] The S&P 500 energy index was down 0.8 percent.
Recent general weakness in U.S. stocks has been triggered by concerns the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates sooner than some investors had expected. Higher rates would raise borrowing costs for individuals and companies.
Still, some analysts were optimistic.
“Equities offer better value than other asset classes, and so long as the Fed is not overly tight, the bull market will not end. We’re nowhere near that level yet,” said Anastasia Amoroso, global market strategist with J.P. Morgan Funds in New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 23.73 points, or 0.14 percent, to 17,037.6, the S&P 500 was up 3.36 points, or 0.17 percent, to 1,991.8 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 18.14 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,570.43.
The largest percentage gainer on the New York Stock Exchange was Palo Alto Networks, which was up 8.46 percent, while the largest percentage decliner was Pulse Electronics, down 20.29 percent.
Among the most active stocks on the NYSE were Brazil’s Petrobras, down 3.31 percent to $17.24 and Vale SA, down 1.84 percent to $12.29.
Besides Apple, the most actively traded stocks on Nasdaq included GT Advanced Technologies, down 13.3 percent to $12.95 and On Track Innovations, up 26.2 percent to $4.19.
Declining issues were outnumbering advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,820 to 1,099, for a 1.66-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, advancers and decliners were even.
The broad S&P 500 index was posting six new 52-week highs and five new lows for the day; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 26 new highs and 45 new lows.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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