Tuesday, April 24, 2012

NASDAQ Slides in (Unfounded) Apple Anticipation Fears; FOMC Meeting Concludes Wednesday

US markets rebounded from Monday's sharp selloff, though the S&P and NASDAQ were weighed down on fears that Apple (AAPL) would not deliver the usual stellar results after AT&T reported a decline in Apple iPhone activations in the first quarter.

The mercurial company founded and made famous by the recently-deceased Steve Jobs had been ramped up to become the most wealthy company on the planet earlier this year, though investors have been ravenously taking profits in recent weeks. Apple shares, which hit an all-time closing high of 636.23 on April 9th, has sold off viciously over the past two weeks, leading up to today's first quarter earnings announcement, after the closing bell.

Shares have fallen more than 15% to today's close at 560.28, the 10th day the stock has traded lower in the last 11.

After the bell, earnings were released, showing that Apple blew away estimates, as usual. Analysts were looking for earnings per share of $10.04 on revenue of $36.8 billion. Apple's first quarter results were $12.30 per share on $39.2 billion in revenue. Shares were up more than 40 points in after-hours trading, putting AAPL back above $600 per share.

Besides the interest in Apple, there were other issues on the minds of investors, primarily the ongoing FOMC meeting which concludes Wednesday afternoon, at which time the Fed governors are expected to keep interest rates where they have been for more than two years, approaching zero, though market analysts and Fed watchers will be poring over the text of the release and dissecting Fed chairman Ben Bernanke's new conference following the policy statement for any hints that may indicate the Fed leaning toward more QE, without which US markets would likely contract in a big way.

Currently in the final weeks of "Operation Twist," which expires in June, investors are hungry for more free money from the Fed and a continuation of the policy of easy money which has supported stocks since the financial collapse of 2008.

They'll all have to wait until 2:15 pm on Wednesday and thereafter for the news conference, though most see a continuation of QE in some form as a distinct possibility, though the Fed has let some time go by after the first two rounds - QE1 and QE2 - before embarking on further easing.

Dow 13,001.56, +74.39 (0.58%)
NASDAQ 2,961.60, -8.85 (0.30%)
S&P 500 1,371.97, +5.03 (0.37%)
NYSE Composite 7,988.01, +47.28 (0.60%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,691,154,875
NYSE Volume 3,592,090,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2715-1920
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 109-61
WTI crude oil: 103.55, +0.44
Gold: 1,643.80, +11.20
Silver: 30.75, +0.22

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