NEW YORK – Apple, the most valuable company in the U.S., slumped Friday, helping to drag down the stock market. A lack of progress in federal budget talks also discouraged investors.
Apple’s stock dropped 4 percent after the launch of the iPhone 5 in Beijing failed to draw the long lines of customers that showed up for previous versions, according to news reports. Analysts at UBS cut their earnings estimates and price target for Apple, which lost $19.90 to close at $509.79.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 5.87 points to close at 1,413.58, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite sank 20.83 points to 2,971.33. Apple is the biggest stock in both indexes.
The Dow, which doesn’t include Apple, fell 35.71 points to 13,135.01.
President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met Thursday to discuss a budget deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” a collection of higher taxes and government spending cuts scheduled to start Jan. 1. There were no signs of progress, however, and Boehner returned home to Ohio on Friday.
Investors remain confident the two sides will reach a deal soon, said Todd Morgan, a founder of Bel Air Investment Advisors in Los Angeles. But the more time it takes, the more anxious they get.
“People want to move ahead and get past this,” Morgan said. “The uncertainty around it is what’s making people nervous.”
The Labor Department said a steep fall in gas prices pushed down a measure of consumer prices last month. The consumer price index edged down 0.3 percent in November from October, as gas prices sank 7.4 percent, the biggest drop in nearly four years. Consumer prices have risen 1.8 percent over the past year.
The report helped nudge up prices for U.S. government debt, pushing yields down. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.70 percent from 1.73 percent late Thursday. When inflation is weak, it suggests that interest rates are unlikely to jump, and bond prices unlikely to drop, anytime soon.