March 19, 2012 / 12:46 AM / 8 years ago

Apple buoys Wall Street; Treasury debt prices fall

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple lifted U.S. stocks on Monday after it announced regular dividends and share buy-backs, while benchmark U.S. Treasury yields hit a near five-month high as investors sold safe-haven government bonds.

A man smiles as he talks on a mobile phone in front of an electronic monitor displaying share prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo March 14, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

Concerns about Iran’s nuclear program added $1 to U.S. crude oil prices, while the euro climbed to its highest in more than a week against the dollar.

U.S. stocks traded in a choppy session as investors reassessed a rally that has taken the S&P 500 to levels not seen since the 2008 financial crisis. But a jump of more than 2 percent in Apple’s stock price fueled gains for at least one more session.

“Investors have been reluctant to put money to work for a while, but Apple is giving greater confidence for them to invest in stocks,” said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI added 6.51 points, or 0.05 percent, to end at 13,239.13, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX gained 5.58 points, or 0.40 percent, to 1,409.75. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC rose 23.06 points, or 0.75 percent, to close at 3,078.32.

At Monday’s close, the S&P 500 stands 9.9 percent below its historic closing high of 1,565.15 set on October 9, 2007.

Shares of Apple Inc (AAPL.O) soared 2.7 percent to $601.10 after the world’s most valuable technology company said it will start paying a regular quarterly dividend of $2.65 a share in July and buy back up to $10 billion of its stock, beginning in its next fiscal year.

The maker of the iPhone, the iPad and the iPod has $98 billion in cash, and investors have been wondering for months what the company would do with that money.

“It’s a good story. The market was kind of expecting that. People were questioning what Apple could do with the money other than earn nothing,” said Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Capital In Jersey City, New Jersey.

World stocks measured by the MSCI All-Country World Index .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.29 percent, nearing levels last seen in late July.

In Europe, however, the FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 closed down 0.11 percent after four straight sessions of gains.

“A recent string of better-than-expected macroeconomic data has boosted sentiment and fueled the market rally, but we’re now at a turning point,” said Roland Kaloyan, strategist, global asset allocation, at Societe Generale CIB.

“Expectations are now higher, and the risk of disappointment could trigger a correction in equities in the coming weeks,” he added.

The euro rose against the dollar for a third consecutive session as dollar funding in the euro basis swap market eased, supporting the common European currency.

The euro hit a session high of $1.3264 and last traded at $1.3241, up 0.46 percent on the day.

U.S. crude oil prices for April delivery settled at $108.09 a barrel - up $1.03, or 0.96 percent, on persistent worries of Iran-related supply disruptions and as the dollar weakened.

U.S. Treasuries prices fell as U.S. stocks closed higher, driving yields to their highest levels in nearly five months.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note slid 23/32 in price to yield 2.38 percent, up from 2.30 percent late on Friday. Benchmark yields were on track to close higher for the ninth consecutive session after breaking above their 200-day moving average last week.

The 30-year U.S. Treasury bond lost more than a point in price and was last trading down 1-12/32 points in price to yield 3.48 percent, up from 3.41 percent at Friday’s close.

Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak, Angela Moon and Richard Leong; Editing by Dan Grebler, Andrea Evans and Jan Paschal; Multimedia versions of Reuters Top News are now available for: * 3000 Xtra: visit http://topnews.session.rservices.com; BridgeStation: view story .134; For more information on Top News: http://topnews.reuters.com

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