A report that Apple was cutting orders for iPhone 5 components spooked the markets, and Apple’s subsequent share price drop helped drag down the tech-oriented Nasdaq index.
The Dow gained 18 points, with 16 of its 30 components gaining ground; the S&P 500 fell 1; and the Nasdaq was off by 8. Advancers outpaced decliners by 10 to 9 on the NYSE, and decliners outpaced advancers by the same on the Nasdaq. The prices of Treasuries strengthened. Gold futures rose $8.80 to close at $1,669.40 an ounce, and the price of crude oil gained 58 cents to settle at $94.14 a barrel.
In Other Business News:
- Apple’s shares (AAPL) fell 3% after announcing that it had cut orders for iPhone 5 parts, such as touchscreens, due to relatively weak demand. Apple is facing pressure from discount smartphones and from Samsung, which has steadily increased its market share since 2010. Apple’s shares closed at $501.75, down from its high of $705 in September 2012.
- After European antitrust regulators signaled they wouldn’t approve the deal, United Parcel Service announced that it would withdraw its $6.9 billion offer for Dutch shipping company TNT Express. Both UPS and TNT had offered to sell assets--particularly air delivery capabilities--but regulators stated the proposed deal would still harm competition and be bad for European consumers. UPS’ shares (UPS) gained 1.69%.
- U.S. home prices are expected to increase 6% in 2013, according to market research firm CoreLogic. The price rise will be fueled by rising demand, affordable home prices, falling inventory, and fewer distressed sales, such as foreclosures and short sales. According to CoreLogic’s estimate, home prices rose 7.5% in 2012.
- A Bloomberg report that Dell Inc. was exploring a possible sale to a group of private-equity investors sent shares of the computer manufacturer soaring. Dell declined to comment on the “rumors and speculation.” The sudden jump in share price triggered circuit breakers on the Nasdaq. Dell’s shares (DELL) closed 12.96% higher.
- In November, manufacturing output in the 17-nation eurozone fell 0.3% month over month and 3.7% year over year, the biggest yearly decline in three years. The rate of decline, however, slowed from October’s 1% month-over-month drop.
Welcome to the latest edition of, “All publicity is good publicity, unless it costs a lot of money.”
- Everyone’s talking about the trillion-dollar platinum coin that’s making me glad I’ve never felt the need to collect commemorative coins, but what’s more important--if only because it’s a real thing that really happened--is the million-dollar tuna. On January 5, a 488-pound bluefin tuna sold for $1.8 million at a Tokyo auction, a new record price that easily eclipsed the $736,000 that a 593-pound bluefin sold for last year. However, as researcher Andrew David Thaler pointed out, the selling price doesn’t represent the actual economic value of the fish, as the whole auction is essentially a publicity stunt.
The fish’s buyer, Kiyoshi Kimura, the president of a chain of restaurants in Japan, said he would end up taking a loss on the fish but that it was worth it. The whopping price tag comes from the desire to be the biggest bidder at the highly publicized first auction of the year. Still, it’s not just publicity behind the high price: The price of tuna is creeping up anyway due to rampant overfishing, particularly of juveniles that haven’t spawned. The Pew Environment Group released its annual survey a few days after the record-breaking catch that showed bluefin tuna is down 96.4% from unfished levels, bad news for sushi (and ocean) lovers everywhere. At this rate, you’ll soon need that trillion-dollar platinum coin for a night out for sushi.
- Speaking of publicity, there’s the mantra of, “If you build it, they will come.” And if you build it in a movie and let it sit dormant for two decades, then other people will build it even bigger and more people will come. The 200-acre Iowa field of dreams from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams was bought for $40 million by an investment group led by husband-and-wife team Denise and Mark Stillman, according to NBCChicago.com. The Stillmans plan to turn the field into a huge youth sports complex with 24 baseball fields and a summer camp. The publicity from the sale has already generated interest from high school baseball teams around the country that have signed on to play in tournaments held at the complex. It’d be pretty cool to say you played on the original field of dreams. Of course, the school-age kids who will take to the field weren’t even alive when the movie came out, so if you build it, they will come (and demand a remake with someone under 25).