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Wall Street gains on Spain hopes, Apple hits new peakUS-MARKETS-STOCKS:Wall Street gains on Spain hopes, Apple hits new peak
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks opened higher on Friday as Spain moved toward reform measures in anticipation of a bailout package and as Apple debuted its latest iPhone worldwide, sending its shares up to a new peak.
Spain is considering freezing pensions and speeding up a planned rise in the retirement age as it races to cut spending and meet conditions of an expected international sovereign aid package, sources with knowledge of the matter said.
The country's deputy prime minister later denied the government was mulling the freezing of pensions.
"The problems are very big (in Spain and Europe in general), it's possible this is the beginning of the workout of the situation, it certainly takes some pressure off," said Rick Meckler, president LibertyView Capital Management in New York.
"But you can expect - as it's gone on all year - there will be positive and negative news stories out of Europe until Germany makes some firm decision on its level of commitment."
After gaining about 6 percent since the start of August on expectations for new economic stimulus measures by world central banks, the S&P 500 <.SPX> has seen muted action this week, barely moving 0.4 percent in either direction daily.
There may be increased volatility towards the close Friday due to 'quadruple witching' - the quarterly settlement and expiration of four different types of September equity futures and options contracts. Expiration can lead to greater volume and volatility as players adjust or exercise their derivative positions.
"That has historically been a positive day for the market so you have some people just really looking at that," said Meckler, referring to the quadruple witching.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 21.37 points, or 0.16 percent, to 13,618.30. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> added 4.63 points, or 0.32 percent, to 1,464.89. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 14.89 points, or 0.47 percent, to 3,190.85.
Apple Inc <AAPL.O> climbed 0.6 percent to $703.11, after earlier hitting an all-time high of $704.33. The company's iPhone 5 hit stores around the world, giving the consumer giant a boost ahead of the crucial end-of-year holiday season, even as rival Samsung Electronics Co <005930.KS> steps up its legal challenge over key technologies.
Oracle Corp <ORCL.O> gained 2 percent to $32.89 after the software maker's first-quarter met Wall Street expectations, and though the company hardware sales are expected to drop further after tumbling 24 percent from a year ago.
Michael Kors Holdings Ltd <KORS.N> climbed 5.6 percent to $55.43 after the company said it will likely earn more than it earlier expected in the second quarter as the fashion and accessory designer banks on strong global sales.
Darden Restaurants Inc <DRI.N> posted first-quarter earnings that beat analysts' estimates, and the company stood by its sales and profit forecast for the year. Shares rose 4.5 percent to $57.17.
Vivus Inc <VVUS.O> plunged 11.3 percent to $21.03 after the company said it expects a European committee to recommend against the approval of its obesity drug Qsiva, based on preliminary feedback from the committee.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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