Stocks ended relatively flat on Monday, with Apple Inc.’s decision to start paying a dividend having little impact on the broader market.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,239.13, up 6.51 points or 0.1 per cent. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1409.75, up 5.58 points or 0.4 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,479.70, down 17.26 points or 0.1 per cent.
Apple’s announcement that it will start to pay a quarterly dividend of $2.65 (U.S.) a share and buy back $10-billion worth of shares helped the cash-rich company: The shares rose 2.7 per cent, taking them to a new closing high of $601.10.
The move had been widely discussed, given Apple is sitting on a cash hoard worth nearly $100-billion (if you include overseas holdings) and that its chief executive had said recently that the company would soon decide on what to do with its money. It also raises questions about how other U.S. companies will respond, given that overall cash holdings are at record levels right now: Some observers have speculated that dividend initiatives and boosts to existing dividends are the most likely outcomes.
Still, the broader market didn’t seem overly inspired by Apple’s move. Among financials, JPMorgan Chase & Co. rose 1 per cent but Bank of America Corp. surrendered early gains – which had sent the stock above $10 in early trading – and closed 2.8 per cent lower. Microsoft Corp. fell 1.2 per cent and Home Depot Inc. fell 0.5 per cent
Key commodity prices were generally higher. Crude oil rose to $108.09 a barrel, up $1.03. Gold rose to $1,667.30 an ounce, up $11.50. Among commodity producers, Barrick Gold Corp. fell 1.2 per cent but Suncor Energy Inc. rose 1.6 per cent and Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. rose 0.9 per cent.
Viterra Inc. fell 1.5 per cent, closing at $15.97 (Canadian) following the release of a statement saying that it is in “exclusive discussions with a third party regarding the possible acquisition” of the company. The market appears to be in agreement that the price paid will be around $16 a share.