Yen snaps three-day climb while S&P 500 trades little changed

The yen weakened for the first time in four days against the dollar as Japan’s deputy economy minister backed further declines. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fluctuated near a five-year high while Apple Inc. tumbled after posting the slowest sales growth in 14 quarters.

Japan’s currency declined 1.4 percent to 89.86 per dollar at 9:33 a.m. in New York. The S&P 500 rose less than 0.1 percent, while the Nasdaq-100 Index sank 0.7 percent as Apple shares slumped 11 percent in early New York trading. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index was little changed. The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose two basis points to 1.84 percent. Silver and nickel led metals lower. Oil jumped 0.9 percent.

A yen at 100 to the dollar wouldn’t be a problem, Yasutoshi Nishimura said in an interview in Tokyo, even after the currency’s 11 percent drop in the past three months. Sales at Apple missed analysts’ estimates amid rising costs and accelerating competition with Samsung Electronics Co. Euro-area services and manufacturing output contracted at a slower pace than economists estimated, according to a report from Markit Economics. Claims for jobless benefits in the U.S. unexpectedly dropped last week to a five-year low, the Labor Department said.

Nishimura’s “comments reinforce investor expectations that the Japanese government would like to see dollar-yen extend its recent  correction  higher,” Lee Hardman, a currency strategist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in London, wrote in a report today.

Yen Slides

The yen dropped at least 0.4 percent against its 16 major peers. The Japanese currency tumbled 1.6 percent versus the euro. Europe’s single currency gained 0.3 percent to $1.3351.

Apple, the world’s most valuable company, dropped to as low as $458.65 in pre-market trading. A close at that price would be the lowest in more than 11 months. Apple stock accounts for 15 percent of the Nasdaq-100 and 3.6 percent of the S&P 500.

Profit in the quarter to Dec. 29 was little changed at $13.1 billion, the company said. Sales rose 18 percent to $54.5 billion, falling short of $54.9 billion, the average analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg.

“Apple genuinely disappointed people,” said Todd Morgan, senior managing director at Los Angeles-based Bel Air Investment Advisors, which manages about $6 billion. “The market’s had a terrific run here, so we were looking for some kind of correction and this might be the catalyst.”

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