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Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are in a tight race for the title of world’s most valuable public company. The three have tossed around the title over the past few trading days, each closing with a market cap over $860 billion. Microsoft surpassed Apple in market cap on Friday, only for Apple to overtake it again on Monday. Amazon briefly eclipsed both companies during intraday trading Monday. As of Monday’s close, Apple took the lead with a market cap of $877 billion. Amazon followed at $866 billion, then Microsoft with $860 billion.

The horse race between these tech giants has intensified as the tech sector has seen an upswing from October declines and following the White House’s announcement of a 90-day trade truce with China on Saturday. The stocks have been closely watched since August, when Apple became the first publicly traded company in the U.S. to reach $1 trillion in market cap. About a month later, Amazon reached the same milestone before markets closed, ending the day just below the $1 trillion mark.

Microsoft’s lead on Friday marked a significant shift in the tech sector, as the company hasn’t closed a year in the top seat since 2002 and has not been the most valuable tech stock since 2010. While Apple and Amazon had been the two front-runners by market cap size, recent setbacks at the companies have given Microsoft a leg up. The company has seen its value more than triple since Satya Nadella took over as CEO from Steve Ballmer in February 2014, as Nadella has accelerated the company’s transition into cloud-based services and allowed other parts of the business to take priority over the Windows PC operating system.

Since Apple announced on its fourth-quarter 2018 earnings call that moving forward it would no longer disclose iPhone unit sales, investors have worried the company is getting ready for a significant drop-off in sales of its flagship product.

Amazon saw a similar sell-off after delivering weak guidance in its third-quarter 2018 earnings report. The company expected $2.1 billion to $3.6 billion in fourth-quarter operating income, well below Street estimates of $3.9 billion for the quarter that spans the holiday season.

Both companies have rebounded with the market and the pause in trade tensions with China. On Monday, Amazon closed up 4.9 percent and Apple was up 3.5 percent.

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‘Short the S&P 500’ and two other top 2019 ideas: BofA technician

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“Going back long term, the dollar versus the S&P as a ratio has a few significant bottoms that end up leading to a period where the dollar severely outperformed the S&P 500,” Ciana said on CNBC’s “Futures Now” on Thursday.

For example, in 2000, the ratio found a bottom before the dot-com bust sent equities tumbling and the dollar soaring. It was a similar setup in 2008 and 2014-15, said Ciana, BofA’s chief global fixed income technical strategist.

“Now we’re having another one right in here,” he added. “What ends up happening in these time frames is the dollar ends up outperforming while the S&P 500 of course underperforms. That means, buy dollar, sell stocks.”

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Consumer spending to keep hopes on economy alive

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Goldman’s relatively upbeat assessment came against a backdrop of a market buffeted by internal and external risks — most notably the U.S.’ ongoing trade war with China. The Dow has erased its gains for the year, while the S&P 500 pulled back 2.3 percent to 2,633.08 and turned negative for the year.

The bank acknowledged that those sharp losses will translate into “some near-term restraint on spending,” as well as consumer lending. Rising interest rates will also dampen the outlook, the bank said, adding that growth will gradually decelerate from 2.8 percent in the first quarter to an average of 2.4-to 2.5 percent over 2019.

In a somber assessment of its own on Friday, Morgan Stanley forecast the market would remain “range bound” in 2019, citing “the elevated risk of an earnings recession. We expect topline growth to decelerate (due to decelerating GDP) and margins to come under pressure.”

With the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank pulling back on loose money policies, “the good news is that tightening may be coming to a pause/end early next year which could bring relief to global asset prices particularly if China growth stabilizes,” Morgan Stanley’s analysts wrote.

Still, economists point to the sharp drop in crude prices, which recently fell below $50 per barrel, as a boost for consumers.

“The recent declines in the oil price, the high savings rate, and strong consumer sentiment, largely offset the drag from recent stock price declines, tightening lending standards, and higher rates,” according to Goldman.

“The bottom line is that even after recent declines in the equity market, we continue to expect strong but decelerating consumption growth over the next few quarters,” the bank said.

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Delta tests out offering most restrictive tickets to frequent flyers

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Delta Airlines Airbus A330-200 airplane with registration N851NW is seen landing at London's Heathrow Airport.

Nicolas Economou | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

Delta Airlines Airbus A330-200 airplane with registration N851NW is seen landing at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Frequent flyers who like to pick their seats may need to shell out more miles for their next award ticket.

Delta Air Lines has been quietly offering its most restrictive tickets to loyal travelers on some routes. Since last month, Delta has been offering SkyMiles members no-frills basic economy award tickets, along side those for standard coach class and first or business class. Passengers booked in basic economy are barred from making changes to their tickets and from selecting a seat ahead of time, and also board last.

Delta was the first among the three biggest U.S. airlines to offer basic economy fares in 2012. American Airlines and United Airlines rolled out their own versions of the bare-bones fares last year. Executives have not been shy that they measure the success of this fare class by how many passengers book the higher fare to avoid the basic economy restrictions.

The frequent-flyer miles required for a free ticket varies by route and demand, but a search for Dec. 14-21 trip from Detroit to Charleston, South Carolina, was 47,000 Skymiles in basic economy and 50,500 for a regular coach ticket.

“It seems like a really risky move,” said Gary Leff, a travel and loyalty program specialist who noted the new offering in his View from the Wing blog. A ticket purchased with miles is “supposed to be an experience, not a pain.”

If the SkyMiles member chooses the basic economy award ticket on Delta’s website, a window pops up reminding the loyalty program member of the basic economy restrictions, much like it does if the traveler simply bought the ticket.

Delta is currently presenting the basic economy option on nonstop and connecting flights from Minneapolis to Phoenix and flights to and from Charleston from within the U.S. and Canada.

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