Apple’s March to $3 Trillion Carries Virus-Risk Warning for S&P

(Bloomberg) — Apple Inc., whose shares serve as a real-time proxy for risk sentiment toward the pandemic, is near a $3 trillion market capitalization. If history is any guide, that milestone may signal a technical correction is ahead, for both the stock and the broader market.

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The ripple effect in those episodes went beyond just Apple. Huge gains in big tech stocks tend to drive the S&P 500 to record highs, with the benchmark potentially setting its 70th record close for the year today. But those market drivers can spur big selloffs too. Apple’s pullback after hitting the trillion-dollar milestone contributed to the bear market in the fall of 2018. It also helped fuel the tech wreck of September 2020, when the S&P 500 slid amid election-related volatility.

For Apple to hit the $3 trillion market cap, its share price would need to reach $182.86. It was down less than 1% Tuesday, at about $179. Amid thin volume, the stock market has posted broad gains this week, so attaining the next trillion-dollar threshold is within reach.

This comes in the face of Apple closing some stores in locations such as New York City, Los Angeles, Washington and London as the omicron variant spreads. Apple took a similar step in the summer of 2020, before the wide availability of vaccines. And when New York and some other cities were reopening, the virus was spreading to the South — including to major GDP-contributing states like Texas and Florida.

Given that Apple’s products are largely luxury items, such a move served as a real-time indicator of consumer demand and foot traffic in stores. Apple shares reacted to these steps, and the broader market saw it as a proxy for the spreading virus. Now investors are once again take their cue from this crucial stock.

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