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Tech Stocks This Week: Apple Rises, Instagram Launches Checkout Feature, and More

Daniel Sparks, The Motley Fool

Though earnings season is now in the rearview mirror, there were still some interesting stories in tech to surface throughout the week.

  1. Shares of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) rose nearly 3% throughout the week, even as the S&P 500 lost almost 1%.
  2. Facebook's (NASDAQ: FB) Instagram launched a checkout feature to help users buy products.
  3. An analyst reiterated an outperformance rating for Square (NYSE: SQ) stock.

Here's a look at each of these stories.

Apple TV content displayed on a TV next to an Apple TV box and Siri remote.

Image source: Apple.

Apple stock rises

Shares of Apple had a good week, rising several percentage points while the S&P 500 declined slightly. Though Apple refreshed some of its hardware throughout the week, including its iPad Air, iPad Mini, iMac, and AirPods, the main story behind the stock's rise likely boils down to excitement leading up to the company's event on Monday.

On Monday, March 25, at 1 p.m. EDT, Apple is holding an event at its Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California. Given the event invitation's tag line, "It's show time," Apple is expected to show off its long-awaited streaming-TV service. In addition, the company is expected to unveil a subscription-based News service that will help monetize its popular Apple News app.

Considering that Apple's services segment is growing rapidly and is the company's second-largest segment, it's not surprising to see investors upbeat about these rumored services' prospects.

Instagram unveils a new shopping feature

Meanwhile, Facebook's Instagram showed off a new feature for Instagram, called checkout. The shopping feature simply enables users to quickly and easily purchase products they discover on the platform. Instagram explained the feature in a blog post.

Checkout enhances the shopping experience by making the purchase simple, convenient and secure. People no longer have to navigate to the browser when they want to buy. And with their protected payment information in one place, they can shop their favorite brands without needing to log in and enter their information multiple times.

The checkout feature will roll out to more than 20 major retailers over the next few weeks.

"Checkout is just one part of our long-term investment in shopping," Instagram said. "We're excited to introduce even more ways for people to enjoy shopping on Instagram this year."

Is Square stock a buy?

Square stock was the subject of some bullish analyst commentary this week when RBC Capital Markets analyst Daniel Perlin reaffirmed an outperform rating and an $88 price target for the stock.

Perlin was particularly optimistic about Square's fast-growing Cash App ecosystem, noting (via Barron's) that the company's ability to build out the peer-to-peer payment app with debit cards for both consumers and businesses is expanding the company's addressable market.

In the company's most recent quarterly shareholder letter, Square said its Cash App monthly active users surpassed 15 million in December of 2018 -- more than double what they were in the year-ago period.

Square recently launched Square Card, a free business debit card for sellers, enabling them to spend proceeds from sales instantly without depositing funds into a checking account. The card also gives sellers a discount on purchases from other Square sellers and helps sellers keep their business and personal expenses separate.

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Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Daniel Sparks owns shares of Square. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple, Facebook, and Square. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.