Apple's surge in iPhone sales to China lifts Wall Street, ASX hits fresh high

PHOTO: Apple shares have risen after reports of a surge in iPhone sales to China. (Reuters: Issei Kato)

The Australian share market hit fresh highs in early trade, after Wall Street again posted a record close.

ASX at 1pm (AEDT):

The ASX 200 has broken through 6,900 points to hit a fresh record highThe All Ordinaries index is up by 0.6 per cent to 7,033 pointsMaterials is the only sector declining, on a weaker iron ore price

By 1pm (AEDT) the ASX 200 had gained 0.7 per cent to 6,919 points — beating its previous intraday record posted in November.

The gains were broad-based, led by the health care sector (+1.4pc), followed by consumer stocks (+1.4pc) and telcos (+1.1pc).

However, mining stocks have taken a hit on a weaker iron ore price, led by a fall for Fortescue Metals (-1.2pc).

Overseas markets provided a positive lead for the Australian session as investor fears about the US-Iran conflict continued to recede.

European markets closed higher, while spot gold and crude oil prices fell slightly.

On Wall Street, Apple shares closed 2.1 per cent higher, making it the top performing stock on the Dow Jones this session.

Market snapshot at 8:15am (AEDT):

ASX SPI futures +0.2pc at 6,829, ASX 200 (Thursday's close) +0.8pc at 6,874AUD: 68.55 US cents, 52.46 British pence, 61.72 Euro cents, 75.06 Japanese yen, $NZ1.04US: Dow Jones +0.7pc at 28,957, S&P 500 +0.7pc at 3,274, Nasdaq +0.8pc at 9,203Europe: FTSE 100 +0.3pc at 7,598, DAX +1.3pc at 13,495, CAC +0.2pc at 6,042, Euro Stoxx 50 +0.3pc at 3,435Commodities: Brent crude -0.05pc at $US65.41/barrel, spot gold -0.3pc at $US1,550.89/ounce

Reuters analysis of Chinese Government data showed Apple shipped 3.2 million iPhones to China in December, compared to 2.7 million a year ago.

Yesterday, Apple revealed customers spent $US1.4 billion in its App Store between Christmas and the new year, while users of Apple News also rose.

However, the holiday period was less positive for traditional US retailers — shares in Kohl's (-6.5pc) and JC Penney (-10.8pc) slumped, after both companies revealed weak sales.

Department store operator Kohl's said demand for women's clothing was weak and lowered its earnings forecast, while rival JC Penney reported a fall in same-store sales.

Retail sales pick up in November

Locally, the Bureau of Statistics released retail sales figures, confirming that Australian retailers continued to see increased sales in November from the local uptake of America's Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Retail sales rose by 0.9 per cent in November, seasonally adjusted — well ahead of forecasts and an improvement from a tepid rise in October.

Ahead of the release, NAB currency strategist Ray Attrill said the shift in spending patterns had been "mostly captured in the seasonal adjustment" but noted that a result above NAB's 0.5 per cent forecast could reflect "a bring forward of [Christmas] spending, where December sales have become less important over time."

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