Apple closes above $700; FedEx weighs on stocks

Worries about the global economy and Europe keep stocks in check. FedEx cuts its guidance. Apple reaches $702; Google nearly reaches $719. Crude oil drops; so do retail gas prices. Homebuilders are increasingly optimistic.

By Charley Blaine Sep 18, 2012 12:47PM
Charley BlaineUpdated: 2 a.m. ET, Wednesday

(AAPL) shares topped $702 and closed above $700 Tuesday for the first time as iPhone fever grew ahead of the first sales on Friday. Google (GOOG) shares hit a new 52-week high. Homebuilders are the most optimistic they've been in more than six years.

But that wasn't good enough for the stock market, which ended basically flat on the day. Weighing on the market were package shipper FedEx (FDX)'s warning about a slowing global economy and weak stocks in Europe as dismay grew that Spain doesn't want to apply for a bailout. Spain is considering the issue carefully in large part because any assistance would require submitting to severe austerity requirements.

Futures trading suggests stocks will open solidly higher on Wednesday after the Bank of Japan decided to ease monetary policy with up to 80 trillion yen (or $1 trillion) in asset purchases and extend the program until the end of 2013. It is similar to the Federal Reserve's stimulus plan announced last week.

Wednesday brings earnings from General Mills (GIS), office furniture makers Steelcase (SCS) and Herman Miller (MLHR) and Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY). The latter was off $2.38 to $69.39 after an analyst downgrade. The Commerce Department will report on August building permits and housing starts; the National Association of Realtors will report on existing-home sales. 

The Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) closed up 12 points to 13,565. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) dropped 2 points to 1,459, and the Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) was off 1 point to 3,178. The Nasdaq-100 Index ($NDX), dominated by Apple, finished up 1 point to 2,857.

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There were reports that many overseas investors were less confident about conditions in Europe and Asia and were parking cash in U.S. Treasury securities. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 1.812% from 1.838% on Monday.

After the close, Microsoft (MSFT), the publisher of MSN Money, raised its dividend 3 cents or 15% to 23 cents a share. It's payable Dec. 13 to shareholders of record on Nov. 15.

Apple shares hit a new intraday high of $702
Apple, of course, is commanding lots of attention as it readies iPhone 5 devices for shipment this week. The company received about 2 million orders for the device on Friday.

Shares hit a record $702.33 before closing at $701.91 on Tuesday, up $2.13, a new closing high. The shares were off slightly after hours.

Google is up about 23% this quarter as earnings are improving and consumer acceptance of mobile devices using its Android operating system grows, especially outside the United States.

Shares hit $718.71, a new 52-week high and the highest level since late 2007. But they fell back slightly to $718.28, up $8.30. Google's all-time high is $741.79, set on Nov. 6, 2007.

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Crude falls for second day
Thanks to the second day in a row of lower oil prices, energy stocks were the market's weakest sector. But gold (-GC) settled higher. A Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst projected gold could hit $2,400 an ounce.

Crude oil (-CL)  in New York settled down $1.33 to $95.29 a barrel. Brent crude was off $1.76 to $112.03 a barrel.

The national average price for regular gasoline fell to $3.859, down from Monday's $3.862, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. It's the fourth straight day of declines.

Gold settled up 60 cents to $1,771.20 an ounce. One reason may have been the research note of Francisco Blanch of Bank of America Merrill Lynch who sees the Federal Reserve's stimulus moves as pushing gold prices up to $2,400 by the end of 2014.

Crude's decline was enough to push energy shares lower. Exxon Mobil (XOM) fell 26 cents to $91.65. Chevron (CVX) dropped 17 cents to $116.97. Baker Hughes (BHI) fell $1.20 to $48.90.

Silver (-SI) was up 35.1 cents to $34.718 an ounce. Copper (-HG) slipped a half-cent  cents to $3.787 a pound.

FedEx struggles with weak global economy
But the global economy is still weak, and that's FedEx's problem. In a way, it's everyone's problem because FedEx is widely watched as an early indicator of global economic trends.

Shares were off $2.73 to $86.55 and are off more than 4.5% this quarter.

Customers are saving money by using regular FedEx services as opposed to premium options. Some customers were shipping goods on ships to save money.

The company beat Street estimates on fiscal-first-quarter earnings, reporting $459 million or $1.45 a share. It had projected $1.43 a share. Revenue was up 2.6% to $10.79 billion; analysts had expected $10.7 billion.

"Exports and trade have gone down at a faster rate than global trade has," said Chief Executive Fred Smith on a post-earnings call.

He said new product launches from Apple and Microsoft (MSFT) wouldn't be enough to counter broader weakness in manufacturing, especially as more shipments are carried by cheaper ocean options. He said, though, FedEx is gaining market share in air cargo. (Microsoft publishes MSN Money.)

Two weeks ago, FedEx cut its earnings expectations for the quarter, citing a sharp slowdown in global manufacturing activity. The company has been cutting costs, and it reiterated that it will detail it efforts during an Oct. 10 investor meeting.

Rival United Parcel Service (UPS) was off 72 cents to $73.51.

Homebuilders are more optimistic
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index hit 40, the highest level since June 2006 and the fifth straight monthly gain.

It was also better than expected. That said, the report, released Tuesday, does not mean all is well for builders. For actual overall optimism, the index must top 50.

Nonetheless, it is far cry from 2009 when the index fell into single digits. Moreover, the index suggests conditions will be better in six months.

There was some skepticism about the report. Homebuilding shares, among the best-performing sectors this year, were lower Tuesday. PulteGroup (PHM) was off 37 cents to $15.76. Toll Bros. (TOL) fell 54 cents to $35.19. MDC Holdings (MDC) was off 55 cents to $37.70.

Fourteen of the 30 Dow stocks were higher, led by Kraft Foods (KFT) and Caterpillar (CAT).
Alcoa and American Express (AXP) were the laggards.

Meanwhile, 175 S&P 500 stocks were higher, led by F5 Networks (FFIV) and Apollo Group (APOL).  Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and oil-and-gas-producer WPX Energy (WPX) were the laggards. AMD fell after CFO Thomas Seifert resigned after three years on the job.

And 39 Nasdaq-100 stocks were higher, led by F5 Networks and Apollo Group. Bed Bath & Beyond and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) were the laggards.

Short hits from the markets -- New York close



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Sep 18, 2012 1:25PM
"So if Romney say's that 47% of the population is on welfare, Then what does he presume to do about it ? Cut welfare off at the knees and order everyone back to work? "

They can still have the welfare, but how about making them do community service for it, at a rate of about an hour of work for every $5 of welfare money. Let's see how many of them miraculously find jobs!
Sep 18, 2012 1:40PM
Romney comment is from months ago. Unfortunately he was probably right about 47% of the country taking $ from the Gov. Gov=The rest of us.

So I think what he was saying is that there are a bunch of people who are not going to vote for him due to the fact that they are plugged into the system and see no way out. This was the plan all along.

Maybe some of you should read Obama's book. Sorros is pulling the strings...
Sep 18, 2012 1:54PM
Sep 18, 2012 1:39PM

hehe oh you pathetic libs, you think Romney's comment onthe 47% hurts him? hahahah!!! since when does the TRUTH hurt? well it hurts you pathetic liberals of course, your entire base is lie after lie, people are living the lies of obama and his illegal regime and Romney's saying EXACTLY the TRUTH, the parasites that demand gov't entitle them to EVERYTHING while they sit on their collective ever widening azzes and watch the maury povich show to let him do dna tests on the 40 or so guys that some sleezy skank slept around with to find out which deadbeat is the real father, you wanna see the obama base? chk out Ch11 at 9am here in NY and you'll see the obama voter at their best, which means their lowest trashiest best that is, now tell me again how osama is ahead hahahaha!!!


Romny/Ryan + obama/biden = Reagan/carter redux x10


meanwhile the mideast burns as obama blames some obtuse douchbag's video that NOBODY SAW!!!

Sep 18, 2012 1:11PM
Many people do take unfair advantage of programs like social security disability and food stamps as has been discussed here today. But it's just not worth the potential damage to one's self-worth and self-image for the few paltry dollars he might get from being a ward of the government. Even as the government tries to de-stigmatize the programs on TV, it must feel completely horrible to be dependent on these even legitamately, much less as a scamer. I would say involvment with these programs for longer than a year or so could cause serious lasting psycological disorders
Sep 18, 2012 2:25PM



They are nothing but one huge collection agency and they do absolutely nothing for the average American citizen............NOTHING!

Sep 18, 2012 2:08PM
To add to this comment:
"Many people do take unfair advantage of programs like social security disability and food stamps as has been discussed here today."

Do consider that there are Americans who 'should' be collecting from the Government, but because of personal conviction, pride, among other reasons, DO NOT collect a cent. I know several, and applaud their self sufficiency. Those so honorable amongst us do receive assistance, but it is from their friends and neighbors, and it's not considered charity, but one American helping another American in times of need.

Sep 18, 2012 2:50PM
Obama has not only screwed up this country, his anti-jew bigotry has the middle east in a complete cluster f***
Sep 18, 2012 2:33PM
and just when Obama's Islam debacle is hitting full stride....a stupid, non-story about slackers gets top billing. Can the media be anymore openly biased?

Sep 18, 2012 2:15PM



well I must admit Pres Romney got it wrong when he said 47% of voters are "victims" and "entitled" to EVERYTHING from the gov't, yep he was wrong


IT'S 49%!!!! PRES ROMENY UNDERESTIMATED THE PARASTIC VERMIN AND LEECHES DRAGGING THIS GREAT NATION DOWN!! THANX OF COURSE TO BARACK OSAMA HUSSEIN OBAMA!!! HE'S THE ONE THAT WANTS 55% OF THE PEOPLE IN THIS NATION MIRED IN THE MEDIOCRITY OF POVERTY AND UNAMBITION AT LEAST!! AND ACCOMPLISHING NOTHING AS HUMAN BEINGS!!  you know a better way to "control" the people and enslaving them to the gov't, to be the "same"  to have the same "NOTHING" so everyone is EQUAL, fckn scumbag commie obama is outta here in Nov libs, end of game!!

Sep 18, 2012 2:30PM
Why is the Dept of Ag running Spanish language ads encouraging people to get on food stamps? 
Sep 18, 2012 2:33PM
Why do the poor get all the labels? We bailed out wall street, Corp welfare. banks, GM, Get the big picture. The middle class is carrying the rich, poor, and the government. The government is running out of Spandex to cover their fat a$$.Obama promised to change Washington, Special interest groups still run Washington. No change, as I was promised.
Sep 18, 2012 2:45PM

oops!! what's this?? what's this!!!! Iran deploying a soviet nuclear sub??? hmmmm what's a muslim president to do?? why go on that douchbag david letterman show of course!!!! who's constantly wiping the brown of his ugly face from having it compacted soooooooooo tightly against obama's azz for 3.6yrs now!! hmmm wonder what else in on osama's itinerary, oh yes, that skank beyonces' fundraiser and that fckrag the pimp with a limp show, meanwhile the mideast is burning, what would a muslim pres do now?? why play golf, naturally, what else!!


oh yea, gas prices up again, no!!! didn't see that coming, the private sector is doing well u know!

Sep 18, 2012 2:35PM
Why is MediaMatters (puppet of the White House)  allowed to dictate the news cycle in this country? 
Sep 18, 2012 2:52PM
The media has been holding this dumb, non-story about gov't teat suckers for just the moment. The moment when Obama is in Vegas while the Middle East goes to sh8t.
Sep 18, 2012 2:57PM
Homebuilders are increasingly optimistic? Great one liner from MSN= 15 million homes in the shadow inventory being held by the Banking Cartel!  Another 12 million and counting in some stage of default or foreclosure ! There is optimism you can count on !
Sep 18, 2012 2:38PM

Washington Time - September 19th, 2012

Media doing their best to protect Obama

A full day after the U.S. ambassador to ibya was brutally killed by a Muslim mob, another mob attacked Mitt Romney. While armed only with pens and notebooks, the cabal meant to inflict the same outcome on the Republican’s presidential campaign.

Protecting and defending President Obama through his failures and blunders and gaffes is a full-time job for America’s mainstream press corps — and they’re getting worried. So, they attacked the GOP nominee for his reaction to the US embassy in Egypt's statement condemning “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.”

Was that “appropriate”? “Mixed signal”? “Jumped the gun”? Seven of eight questions were on his statement. It was an another embarrassing day for the national media, and the slap-down was short-lived; within 48 hours, the Middle East and North Africa were in full-blown crisis, and details began to pour out about all the administration had done wrong leading up to the first killing of a U.S. ambassador since the one term of .

The U.S. compound in Benghazi, ibya, it turned out, was barely guarded; the mob easily breached security and swarmed in. Worse, a U.K.newspaper reported, “the  had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and ‘lockdown.’”

Sep 18, 2012 2:18PM
Romney told the truth................if you don't like it......GO ON WELFARE!!!
Sep 18, 2012 1:24PM
Will job creators suddenly begin creating jobs without consumer demand?
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