Apple became the first private company to reach $1 trillion in market capitalization on Thursday, a bright spot on an otherwise dreary day for European and Asian stock bourses wracked by trade war fears.
Shares of Apple finished the formal Wall Street trading day up 2.9 percent at $207.39, topping the magic number needed to exceed $1 trillion in market value two days after the California tech giant reported strong quarterly earnings.
The rally in Apple shares – along with big gains for Tesla motors – helped propel the S&P 500 and Nasdaq solidly higher.
The surge in Apple shares revealed anew how technology remained the ‘sector that propels the market,’ despite headwinds facing some prominent companies, said Gregori Volokhine, president of Meeschaert Capital Markets.
But stocks elsewhere were under pressure as trade war fears ratcheted higher after the United States said it was looking at more than doubling threatened tariffs on a range of Chinese imports.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday called on the United States to remain ‘cool-headed’ but that appeal alone appeared to do little to shift the mood on trading floors.
In Germany, the DAX blue chip index was down 1.5 percent at the closing bell, with analysts blaming US tariff threats that would hit car manufacturers especially hard.
Paris fell 0.7 percent and London 1.0 percent, while Tokyo, Hong Kong and Beijing all dropped. 
Should the United States follow through, it would be ‘a considerable step-up in the trade dispute between US and China and would start to seriously threaten global growth,’ wrote Konstantinos Anthis, head of research at ADSS.
In London, sterling slipped after the Bank of England hiked its key interest rate by a quarter-point to 0.75 percent but seemed reticent to announce any further rate rises amid Brexit uncertainty.
The pound at first edged slightly higher in response to the rate hike but then dropped below the level seen just before the meeting.
‘The pound’s sharp decline could be based on investors acknowledging that today’s rate hike is a ‘one-and-done’ move,’ wrote Lukman Otunuga, research analyst at FXTM.
‘With Brexit uncertainty, cooling inflationary pressures and global trade tensions likely to obstruct the central bank’s efforts to raise interest rates, the pound remains vulnerable to downside risks,’ he added.
Investors are looking ahead to Friday’s US employment report, which is projected to show a gain of 190,000 jobs in July and unemployment dipping to 3.9 percent.
Key figures at 2100 GMT
New York – Dow Jones: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 25,326.16 (close)
New York – S&P 500: UP 0.5 percent at 2,827.22 (close)
New York – Nasdaq: UP 1.2 percent at 7,802.69 (close)
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 1.0 percent at 7,575.93 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 1.5 percent at 12,546.33 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.7 percent at 5,460.98 (close) 
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.1 percent at 3,469.21 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.0 percent at 22,512.53 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 2.2 percent at 27,714.56 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 2.0 percent at 2,768.02 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1584 from $1.1660 at 2100 GMT
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3016 from $1.3127 
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.66 yen from 111.73 yen
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP $1.30 at $68.96 per barrel
Oil – Brent Crude: UP $1.06 at $73.45 per barrel