US close: S&P 500 at one-month high, but Apple drags Nasdaq lower

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LONDON (ShareCast) - - Syria concerns continue to recede
- S&P at highest level since August 13th
- Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL - news) disappoints with latest iPhone models

Dow Jones (DJI: ^DJI - news) : 0.89%
Nasdaq: -0.11%
S&P 500: 0.31%

Both the Dow Jones and S&P 500 rose again on Wednesday as concerns over Syria continued to eased, though the Nasdaq was pushed into the red as analysts failed to show excitement over two new iPhones from tech giant Apple.

This was the seventh consecutive winning session for the S&P 500, sending the index to its highest level since August 13th, while the Dow Jones registered its third straight day of triple-digit gains.

Fears over an impending US strike on Syria eased on Tuesday after it accepted a Russian proposal to hand over all chemical weapons to international control in an attempt to avoid US military action.

In a nationally televised speech on Tuesday night, US President Barack Obama asked Congress to delay a vote on military action against Bashar al-Assad's regime in light of recent diplomatic developments. He said that the Russian initiative "has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force".

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday called on the US not to intervene in Syria, especially if action is not approved by the United Nations first.

In a commentary in The New York Times, he said: "The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation."

Apple slumps as iPhone launch underwhelms

Apple, the biggest company on Wall Street by market capitalisation, didn't have the sort of effect it was hoping for with the launch of two new smartphones: its share price sharply as analysts expressed their disappointment with the latest gadgets - the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C.

The 5S is an upgraded version of the iPhone 5 which features a faster chip, better camera and fingerprint scanner; while the 5C is a cheaper, more colourful, plastic version of the smartphone aimed at the emerging markets.

However, investments banks UBS (Berlin: UBRA.BE - news) , Credit Suisse (NYSE: CS - news) and Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA) all downgraded their ratings for the stock. All three brokers were dissatisfied with Apple's pricing strategy given that the cost difference between the supposedly high- and lower-end versions is not substantial.

Verizon (NYSE: VZ - news) was slightly higher as the US telephone carrier began selling up to $49bn of bonds to help fund its buy-out of Verizon Wireless from joint venture partner Vodafone (LSE: VOD.L - news) . The sale marks the largest corporate debt sale in history and is more than twice the size of Apple's unprecedented $17bn issue in April. Demand is said to have been positive so far.

IBM (NYSE: IBM - news) rose strongly after selling its customer care unit to Synnex (NYSE: SNX - news) for $505m.

Marriott International (NYSE: MAR - news) gained as China's richest man Wang Jianlin said he has hired two investment banks to buy hotel-management companies.

Weak third-tier economic figures

A report on wholesale inventories from the Commerce Department showed stockpiles at distributors rose less than forecast. US wholesale inventories grew by 0.1% month-on-month (Consensus: 0.3%).

The Mortgage Bankers' Association revealed a 13.5% drop in mortgage applications for the week ending September 6th, a five-week low. The data pointed to signs that rising mortgage rates are having a material impact on the housing market.

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