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While you were sleeping Lowe's disappoints, Apple flies

Tuesday 21st August 2012

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Wall Street edged lower as Lowe's cut its profit forecast and investors reassessed the latest clues from Europe. Still, the overall decline was limited as shares of Apple hit yet another record high.

The gain in Apple shares boosted its market capitalisation to US$622.5 billion, another record as that made it the most valuable company in history.

In late afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index both edged 0.07 percent lower, while the Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.13 percent.

The S&P 500 has gained about 9 percent in the past six weeks, according to Reuters.

"The one thing to note today is the resilience we are seeing in the US market," James Dailey, portfolio manager at TEAM Asset Strategy fund in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, told Reuters. "There is this notion that the US market is the oasis of the desert."

For some, the desert is looming large. Caterpillar chief executive Doug Oberhelman warned that the global economic outlook is more uncertain now than in late 2008.

"There's never been a more unpredictable set of tea leaves than right now. Even in 2008 and 2009, US housing was already dying and had been for two years," Oberhelman told the Financial Times.

And today's results weren't all that bright either. Shares of Lowe's were last 5.9 percent lower after the globe's No. 2 home improvement chain posted quarterly results that fell short of expectations and slashed its profit forecast for the fiscal year.

Across the pond, Germany's central bank reminded investors it disagrees with the European Central Bank's considerations of "unlimited" government bond purchases. The Bundesbank's comments, made in its monthly report, provided a stark reminder of the gap in opinions on how best to manage the region's crisis that has helped derail the pace of economic expansion around the world.

"The Bundesbank holds to the opinion that government bond purchases by the eurosystem are to be seen critically and entail significant stability risks," the central bank said.

The German bank's comments come shortly before European leaders resume talks to bridge their differences. Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who also heads the group of euro zone finance ministers, will meet Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on August 22.

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet on Thursday, a day before Samaras arrives in Berlin.

The next ECB meeting is in early September.

Europe's Stoxx 600 Index finished the session with a 0.5 percent decline from the previous close. National benchmark indexes dropped in Germany, France and the UK, sliding 0.1 percent, 0.2 percent and 0.5 percent respectively.

Lonmin dropped 4.6 percent, sliding for a sixth day. The world's third-biggest platinum miner may raise US$1 billion in a rights issue as soon as next month after operations at its biggest mine were halted amid deadly violence, the Sunday Times reported.

BusinessDesk.co.nz

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