The close of U.S. trading on Tuesday marked the highest close for the S&P 500 index (SPX) since the beginning of 2015. The trading session was marked with volatility as investors are optimistic that Greece and its creditors are nearing a compromise in order to avert a default. A news report stated that the European Commission was even considering a debt extension of 6 months. News of this extension was however dismissed by Wolfgang SchÃ¤uble, Germanyâ€™s finance minister. Meanwhile in the U.S., government data showed that job openings in the country had increased to its highest level in December since 2001 while the number of people who were hired also advanced to its highest level since 2007. Also on Tuesday, two voting members of the U.S. Federal Reserve commented that the Fed was very close to increasing interest rates. By the close of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) increased 0.8%, or 139.55 points, to 17,868.76, while the Nasdaq Composite index (COMP) also advanced 1.3%, or 61.63 points, to 4,787.64. This tech-heavy index was boosted by a big gain in Apple, Inc. shares. Also on the upside was the SPX which added 1.1%, or 21.84 points, to 2,068.58, turning positive for 2015.
With investors concerned about Greece exiting from the euro zone, the U.S. dollar (USD) traded higher against most major currencies. With the rumors that the European Commission is considering giving Greece a 6 month extension to their bailout program, the EUR/USD gained 0.14 percent to trade at 1.1310. Alexis Tsipras, the Greek Prime Minister, said over the weekend that he is looking for a new agreement in order to cover Greeceâ€™s funding needs until June. In other currency news, the British pound traded higher against the greenback with GBP/USD trading a 1.5228, up 0.08 percent. This came after the Office for National Statistics reported that the manufacturing production in the U.K. rose 0.1% in December. Analysts were expecting a downtick of 0.1%. Also, manufacturing production on an annualized basis also increased 2.4 percent in December which also beat expectations for a gain of 2.0 percent. Elsewhere, the USD/CHF traded almost unchanged at 0.9242 while the USD/JPY traded at 119.28, up 0.54%.
On Tuesday, the shares of Apple (AAPL, +0.16%) traded at $122.02, up 1.9 percent. This was a new record high which pushed the companyâ€™s market capitalization above $700 billion for the first time. At the close of trading on Tuesday, the iPhone making company was valued at $710.8 billion. This marked the first company in the U.S. to surpass the $700 billion mark. On the 25th of November 2014, the Cupertino-based company traded above the $700 billon mark for the first time during intraday trading. Yesterday, however, marked the first time that the companyâ€™s stock closed above this level. Since December 1980, when Apple made its initial public offering (IPO), the company's market value has increased more than 50,600 percent. According to Dow Jones Factoids, half of Appleâ€™s percentage increase occurred from the beginning on 2012. Today, Apple is twice the size of Microsoft (MSFT, -0.05%) and with a market cap of $347.5 billion, Microsoft is the 2nd largest company in the United States.
On Wednesday, U.S. crude oil rose more than $1 while Brent crude maintained above $56 a barrel. These increases came as crude stocks in the U.S. were smaller than expected. The gains however were capped by a warning from the IEA (International Energy Agency) that global production would still add to the worldâ€™s inventories and that it would take a while before the supply glut was dented. By 0334 GMT, Brent crude futures for delivery in March dropped to $56.30 a barrel, down 13 cents. Meanwhile, U.S. crude futures for March delivery traded at $50.32 a barrel, up 30 cents. This came after the commodity dropped $2.84 on Tuesday.