Summary:

Lots of anticipation and speculation continue to surround Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) as the company gears up for its quarterly earnings later today.…

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Lots of anticipation and speculation continue to surround Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) as the company gears up for its quarterly earnings later today.

This morning in New York, shares were down by 5.4 percent in pre-market trading, reports Bloomberg. But in Frankfurt, Germany, Marketwatch reports that shares are up 2.1 percent after falling eight percent yesterday. (U.S. markets were closed yesterday because of the federal holiday.)

The declines are following on from a surprise announcement from Apple yesterday that its CEO Steve Jobs was taking a medical leave of absence, and COO Tim Cook would be assuming day-to-day operations, as he had done the previous two times that Jobs had taken time off for medical reasons.

Many consider Jobs the visionary behind Apple’s success and worry that his absence will affect how well the company will do going forward.

But it also seems that someone is taking note of the declines in Apple’s stock and is spinning out some positive news as a counterbalance: Reuters (NYSE: TRI) writes that Apple is today set to report a 50 percent rise in quarterly sales, compared to the same period a year ago; and the iPhone and iPad fared particularly well with holiday shoppers.

Apple’s stock has risen more than $26 since the beginning of the 2011 calendar year. See our chart here.

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By Ingrid Lunden

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