US stocks were flat yesterday, on signs of fatigue after a six-week run of gains, as the European Central Bank quelled speculation about the form of market intervention that may be taken to stem the region’s debt crisis.
Despite the lethargic trading, Apple shares hit a new high, becoming the most valuable public company of all time, with the combined value of its shares exceeding a previous record set by Microsoft in 1999. Shares closed up 2.6 per cent at $665.15.
The S&P 500 remains close to a four-year high, rising nearly five per cent in the past six weeks. Investors had been waiting for the European Central Bank (ECB) to take steps to control the euro crisis in September. Last week, the index broke away from the 1,400 level where it had stalled for much of August.
German magazine Der Spiegel said over the weekend the ECB is considering setting interest rate thresholds for any purchases of a struggling Eurozone country’s bonds. A bank spokesman said it was misleading to report on decisions that still had not been taken.
Germany’s central bank, the Bundesbank, also reiterated its opposition to bond purchases. A spokesman for the German finance ministry said it was not aware of any plans for the ECB to target bond spreads.
The slight losses on US exchanges compared with much steeper declines in Europe and a fall in the Shanghai index to its lowest level since 2009.
“Over there, the crisis is clearly much more real for them,” said Ken Polcari, managing director at ICAP Equities in New York.
Facebook shares briefly fell more than 50 per cent from its issue price to hit a new low of $18.75.