Apple drags on S&P, Nasdaq; Dell jumps after report

NEW YORK Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:32am IST

1 of 2. Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, January 14, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended lower on Monday as worries over demand for Apple products drove down its shares and investors braced for earnings disappointments.

Running counter to that was Dell Inc's DELL.O stock which jumped 13 percent to about a five-month high at $12.29 after Bloomberg reported the No. 3 personal computer maker is in talks with private equity firms to go private. Dell's gains offset some tech-sector weakness.

Tech heavyweight Apple (AAPL.O) lost 3.6 percent to $501.75 and was the biggest weight on both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 .NDX indexes after reports the company has cut orders for LCD screens and other parts for the iPhone 5 this quarter due to weak demand. The stock hit a session low of $498.51, the first dip below $500 since February 16.

"With Apple, it seems as if the sentiment has shifted from this being the one stock that everybody wanted to own to people beginning to look at it as a company (whose) business is slowing down somewhat," said Eric Kuby, chief investment officer of North Star Investment Management Corp in Chicago.

Adding to investor unease, fourth-quarter earnings kick into high gear this week. Analyst estimates for the quarter have fallen sharply since October. S&P 500 earnings growth is now seen up just 1.9 percent from a year ago, Thomson Reuters data showed.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 18.89 points, or 0.14 percent, at 13,507.32. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was down 1.37 points, or 0.09 percent, at 1,470.68. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 8.13 points, or 0.26 percent, at 3,117.50.

Apple suppliers also lost ground, with Cirrus Logic (CRUS.O) off 9.4 percent at $28.62 and Qualcomm (QCOM.O) down 1 percent at $64.24.

The Dow fared better than the other two indexes, helped in part by Hewlett-Packard (HPQ.N) shares, which rose 4.9 percent to $16.95. The stock, up early in the session after JPMorgan upgraded its rating on the shares and raised its price target to $21 from $15, added to gains following the Dell report.

Tech has "become the arena for private equity or other capital-restructuring type of maneuvers because of the way their valuations and their balance sheets are," Kuby said.

Appliance and electronics retailer Hhgregg Inc (HGG.N) slumped 5.7 percent to $7.44 after the company cut its same-store sales forecast for the full year.

Earnings reports are due this week from Goldman Sachs (GS.N), Bank of America (BAC.N), Intel (INTC.O) and General Electric (GE.N), among other companies. Third-quarter reports ended with a gain of just 0.1 percent, the worst for an S&P 500 profit period in three years, according to Thomson Reuters data.

President Barack Obama warned Congress at a news conference on Monday that a refusal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling next month could mean a government shutdown and trigger economic chaos.

S&P futures had little reaction to comments after the bell by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who urged lawmakers to lift the country's borrowing limit to avoid a debt default.

Volume was roughly 5.6 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, compared with the 2012 average daily closing volume of about 6.45 billion.

Decliners were about even with advancers on the NYSE while decliners outpaced advancers on the Nasdaq by about 12 to 11.

(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry, Nick Zieminski and Andrew Hay)

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