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Trending tickers: Apple | Microsoft | Ocado | Aviva | Next

Apple Pay Later logo displayed on a laptop screen and Apple logo displayed on a phone screen are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on June 7, 2022. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Apple launched its 'buy now, pay later' service in the United States. Photo:Getty (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Apple (AAPL)

Apple stock has been a favourite for years due to its large and consistent gains. It has now gained renewed interest from investors as the tech company launched its "buy now, pay later" (BNPL) service in the United States.

Apple Pay Later allows consumers to apply for Apple Pay Later loans of $50 to $1,000 to make purchases online or in-app purchases made through their iPhones or iPads.

For now, the program will only be available to randomly selected users who will get access to a pre-release version of Apple Pay Later in the Apple Wallet app.

Consumers who use Apple Pay Later will see their purchases split into 4 payments spread across 6 weeks. In one example, Apple shows a $125 purchase split into 4 payments of $31.27 throughout a 6-week period.

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The scheme features “no fees and no interest” and was designed to let customers “make informed and responsible borrowing decisions”, said Apple Pay head Jennifer Bailey. The service will be embedded into the iPhone operating system, which accounts for more than 50% of smartphones in the US, according to data from Counterpoint Research.

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Though there are no fees and interest, users will, however, need to connect a debit card to their Apple Wallet to use Apple Pay Later to repay their loans. Lack of funds at the time of repayment could results in banks charging a fee.

Microsoft (MSFT)

Elon Musk has said that AI development should be paused immediately but Microsoft shows no sign of slowing down as it seeks to build a small AI empire.

After pouring billions into ChatGPT developer OpenAI, the tech giant is building a small AI empire, adding the technology to everything from its Dynamics 365 to Office 365, and, of course, Bing. Now Microsoft is bringing generative AI to its cybersecurity offerings via its Microsoft Security Copilot.

“They are clearly out in front of everybody else,” Frank Dickson, group VP of security and trust at International Data Corporation, told Yahoo Finance in the US.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has threatened to cut off access to its Internet-search data, which it licenses to rival search engines, if they do not stop using it as the basis for their own artificial intelligence chat products, Bloomberg News reported.

It is also “exploring” putting ads in the responses given by Bing Chat, its new search agent powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4.

Despite these ups and downs, Microsoft’s share price has only moved in one direction this week: up.

Ocado (OCDO.L)

Topping the top-100 leaderboard this Thursday is Ocado Group (OCDO.L), continuing its gains after the update from its UK joint venture with M&S earlier in the week.

The digital only supermarket surged more than 6% this session, taking its cumulative weekly gains to around 15%.

Traders have piled into Ocado this week after it set out an upbeat batch of results at the start of the week.

The retailer is confident that improvements to the service and to the wider economy will be a boon to its revenue growth.

Chris Beckett, head of equity research at Quilter Cheviot, said: “Ocado Retail delivered slightly weaker than expected sales in Q1 as renewed customer growth was offset by customers buying fewer items. In fact, average order value was flat and given how high food inflation has been, it is surprising to see it struggle to boost revenue in a time of elevated prices.

Read more: FTSE 100 higher as London loses global finance crown

“Management believe sales growth should improve as we go through the year. It is hoping that as inflation is expected to fall sharply, consumer confidence will return as cost of living struggles potentially fade and should therefore see improved sales. It will also have easier comparatives following a weak end of 2022 and beginning of this year.

“Ultimately, the joint venture with M&S is only about 10% of the overall group’s valuation. What is seen as more important is the success of the international technology business.

Aviva (AV.L)

The insurer saw its share price dip as it traded without the rights to the next dividend, leading losses across the FTSE 100 this session.

The company has recently joined calls for Britain to press ahead with financial reforms and give high-growth sectors such as technology companies more support to keep London's markets competitive.

"What we're really keen to do is to create the right environment so companies like Aviva can survive and grow," Aviva CEO Amanda Blanc, said.

Next (NXT.L)

UK high street chain Next plunged this week after it said it expects to raise its prices more slowly over the year ahead despite revealing better-than-expected annual profits.

The firm revealed sales increased 8.4% to £5.1bn in the year to the end of January, while pre-tax profits increased 5.7% to £870.4m.

Its profits were £10m higher than its previous guidance and up 16.3% on year before the start of the pandemic.

“We now believe price rises in the second half will be materially lower than we initially feared,” it said.

The group, which has been hiking prices to offset surging cost pressures, said price inflation is set to be "more benign" than previously thought, forecasting increases across its ranges of 7% this spring/summer, easing back to 3% in the autumn/winter.

Watch: By the Numbers - Apple Pay Later

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