Are the Markets Cursing Apple Again?

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) dipped below the $500 threshold on Tuesday in another depressing day for the iPhone maker’s troubled stock while once again putting a drag on the broader markets. Stocks ended almost level after some of the Apple losses were offset by retail companies rising on encouraging economic indicators.

Apple closed the day at $485.92, losing more than three percent for the second straight day. It dropped 3.15 percent, or $15.83, on Tuesday after having fallen 3.6 percent on Monday on reports that it was seeing lower-than-expected iPhone demand. Shares are now at their lowest level since February and down more than 30 percent since reaching a record closing high of $702.10 in mid-September. [Graph: Apple vs. Nasdaq and the Dow since September]

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But while several bulls have tried to calm fears by insisting Apple’s lowered iPhone component orders — stated as the primary proof of falling device demand — were a consequence of improved yields and hence better margins, investors have had other ideas. To make things worse on Tuesday, Nomura Equity Research analyst Stuart Jeffrey cut his December quarter iPhone sales estimates to 48 million from 50 million and lowered his revenue forecast for Apple to $53 million from $54.2 million.

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However, after a report said national retail sales grew more than expected in December, stocks in that sector turned positive and put a halt on broader market losses. Target (NYSE:TGT) added 1.16 percent to close at $61.09, American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO) gained 4.79 percent to $20.58, and Gap (NYSE:GPS) rose 3.41 percent to $32.46.

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