ASX 200 futures back near 2015 highs following more iron ore gains and record highs for US equities, futures 24 points higher

The S&P 500 touched a high of 2,120.92 before finishing at 2,117.69, its highest close ever. Today's first chart shows year-to-date performance in percentage terms of the S&P 500 (black), Australia ASX 200 (orange) and the world's largest company, Apple Inc. (blue), which is up 19% for the year to date and taking a run at its February closing highs of US$132 (second chart).

Apple Inc. (AAPL) is to equity markets what gold is to commodity markets - rightly or wrongly, it draws fascination, irrespective of the 1,000s of other listed companies worth analysing. It deserves the attention, it's the biggest company, and one of the biggest brands, in the world. It is this over-analysis that one would think makes the ability for AAPL to outperform consensus analyst expectations impossible, yet it still manages to so often. AAPL will announce its quarterly earnings after the US market closes tomorrow morning (Sydney time) and also offer guidance of what it will expect throughout the current quarter, ending 30 June. Expectations for iPhone sales, which is where the excitement came from in the last quarter due to its ~70% contribution to total revenue, sits at somewhere between 55 million and 60 million units for the quarter. The larger iPhones have been cannibalising iPad sales, and if AAPL can replace those falling iPad sales with sales of the new Apple Watch, then the market will be extremely pleased - it's possible CEO Tim Cook might release a little bit of guidance around Watch take-up at this early stage. Most analysis are expecting an earnings per share figure of US$2.15-US$2.20 per share for the quarter ending March, up from US$1.66 per share for the same quarter last year. Once again, AAPL shares will trade tonight pre-earnings announcement, before releasing data once the US market has closed.

As is evident from today's last chart, the price of iron ore is bringing relief to investors in concentrated iron ore miners - here we've listed Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) in black, BC Iron (BCI) in blue and Mount Gibson Iron (MGX) in orange. As you can see from today's Global Markets matrix below, the benchmark spot iron ore price has lifted to US$57.81, up US$2.99 from Thursday's close. Sentiment will be very bullish around these stocks today and this will likely by supportive of the AUDUSD pair, which is trading at a healthy US$0.7825.

Today‚Äôs charts are taken from the Rivkin Trader platform. 30,000 global instruments available to trade including FX, commodities, index, ETFs and international shares. Trade Australian share CFDs from just $8 or 0.10%. Click here or phone 1300 748 546 to open a Rivkin Trader account now.

Upcoming economic announcements: Chinese industrial profits announced at 11:30am, European Central Bank will announce asset purchases at 11:45pm, some third-party PMI out of the US at 11:45pm, all Sydney time.

This article was written by Scott Schuberg, CEO of Rivkin Securities Pty Ltd. Enquiries can be made via or by phoning +612 8302 3600.

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