Major stock market benchmarks continued to climb on Thursday as trade tensions eased and major tech names rallied. By the end of the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI ) had risen nearly 0.6%, and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC ) rallied by about half a percent.
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On one hand, tech stocks led the broader advance, and the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSEMKT:XLK) rose 1.25%. On the other, investors' enthusiasm for retail stocks waned a bit, with the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSEMKT:XRT) ending the day down 0.73%.
Apple's new products
Shares of Dow component Apple climbed as much as 3.3% -- a staggering move for the $1.1 trillion company -- then settled to close up 2.4% after it unveiled the next three new iPhone models and the new Apple Watch Series 4.
On the smartphone front, the tech juggernaut introduced the iPhone Xs, an updated version of last year's iPhone X with a similar 5.8-inch OLED display that will start at the same $999 price point. Apple is also launching larger 6.5-inch iPhone Xs Max version of the device beginning at $1,099, and a cheaper LCD version, the iPhone XR, starting at $749. What's more, it will offer several options with upgraded storage for each model, including a 512GB iPhone Xs Max for $1,449 -- its most expensive smartphone to date.
Most notable here is that Apple was widely expected to reduce the starting price of the iPhone Xs model relative to last cycle's iPhone X. By remaining firm there while simultaneously offering larger storage options for each of its new phones, Apple has astutely positioned itself to reap higher average selling prices -- and, if adequate consumer demand follows, juicier margins -- in the coming quarters.
Hershey grabs a snack
Meanwhile, shares of Hershey initially declined by around 0.7% this morning, but recovered to close up 0.6% after the chocolate and snack foods giant agreed to acquire Pirate Brands from B&G Foods (NYSE:BGS) for $420 million.
The move will notably add Pirate's Booty, Smart Puffs, and Original Tings to Hershey's already enviable portfolio of over 80 brands. Pirate Brands will operate as part of Hershey's Amplify business, which includes health-centric options like Oatmega, Paqui, and Skinny Pop.
"Pirate's Booty is a leading cheese puffs brand loved by moms and kids as a better-for-you treat," said Chief Growth Officer Mary Beth West. "We expect the full Pirate Brands portfolio to be a great fit for Hershey's growing Amplify business, which is targeted toward consumers who are looking for great-tasting snacks without compromise."
After factoring in the tax benefits stemming from the deal, Hershey's purchase price for Pirate Brands falls closer to $360 million. Assuming it passes regulatory muster, the acquisition should close before the end of this year.