There's always room for interpretation when watching the stock market, but it's probably a safe bet that the jump in Apple shares (NASDAQ: AAPL) on Tuesday morning was in response to the news that chief executive Steve Jobs will give a keynote address at next Monday's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).
Apple shares gained 6.68, or 2 percent, to 344.09 in early trading Tuesday, the stock's highest price since May 13. After reaching an all-time high of 364.90 on Feb. 16, Apple's stock has struggled to maintain altitude.
It's not unreasonable to assume the stock's drift reflects uncertainty about the health of Jobs, who announced in mid-January that he would be taking an indefinite medical leave of absence for unspecified reasons.
Given the Apple co-founder's history -- two medical leaves of absence in two years, the removal of a pancreatic tumor in 2004, a liver transplant in 2009 -- it's not surprising that Jobs's latest leave shook investors and prompted demands for a clear and regularly updated successor plan.
While infinitely less dramatic than the medical leave, Tuesday's news that Jobs is implicitly healthy enough to schedule a keynote address is encouraging for investors and industry onlookers wondering about 1) Jobs's medical condition, and 2) Apple's future should Jobs no longer be able to remain actively involved in running the company.
This wouldn't be Jobs's first public address since beginning his leave in January. In March, he spoke to an audience attending the live iPad 2 launch. But that was a surprise appearance. Scheduling and announcing a keynote address, that's an entirely different matter.
Let's hope it means that Jobs is recovering from his latest health battle.