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New Steve Jobs ill-health rumour sparks share drop

Macworld Expo exit 'caused by Apple CEO health

Apple's stock fell abruptly on Tuesday, but later recovered some ground, after an online report said CEO Steve Jobs bowed out of next week's Macworld Expo keynote address because of declining health.

In a report it labelled "rumour," the gadget blog Gizmodo quoted an unnamed source as saying Apple "is choosing to remove the hype factor strategically" by holding the keynote without Jobs, whose "health is rapidly declining."

Gizmodo states that its source has “repeatedly been 100% correct before. Those times, however, were always related to news and images of unreleased Apple products. I can only hope that, in this more personal matter, it is absolutely wrong. And that if he is not, that sentence just means that Steve Jobs is retiring according to his plan.

“While Steve Jobs' health is nobody's business - not the press, not investors, not the public - we believe that there's a line between saying "no-comment" and plainly misleading - once again - the public.”

Steve Jobs health rumours

Apple did not comment for the Gizmodo post and did not immediately respond to IDG News Service requests for comment.

Apple's Nasdaq stock (AAPL), which had closed at $86.61 on Monday, fell as low as $84.72, a drop of about 2 percent. But shares ended the day at $86.29, down just $0.32, or 0.37 percent.

Apple announced on December 16 that Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, would deliver the keynote at Macworld Expo in San Francisco on January 6. For many years since he returned to Apple in 1997, Jobs has given that speech and used it as a launch platform for important products, including the iPhone in 2007 and the MacBook Air in 2008.

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At the same time, Apple said it would stop exhibiting at Macworld Expo after the January event. The company said trade shows had become a minor part of its marketing strategy.

Concerns have been raised about Jobs's health since his appearance at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in June, when some observers said he appeared gaunt. Jobs said in 2004 that he had undergone surgery for pancreatic cancer. On October 3, Apple shares fell more than 10 percent after a report that Jobs had suffered a major heart attack. The stock recovered after Apple said the report, from a "citizen journalist" on an unfiltered section of CNN's Web site, wasn't true.

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