By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The S&P 500's multiple record highs set this week after more than a year-long wait on Wall Street would not have taken so long had Apple Inc <AAPL.O>, the index's largest constituent, not fallen deeply from its own all-time high.

Since the S&P 500 hit its prior record high on May 21, 2015, the benchmark index has risen 1.55 percent. But excluding Apple, the S&P 500 would have gained 2.63 percent during that time, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Apple has been struggling with slowing demand for its iPhones and cooler sales in China than it had hoped for.

Although Apple's stock gained 1.98 percent on Thursday, its biggest one-day rise since May, it is still down 26 percent from its own record high close of $133 set on Feb. 23 last year.

After the launch of the iPhone in 2007, Apple became a must-own stock for growth investors across Wall Street, and its stellar rise fueled gains in the S&P 500. But with investors concerned by falling iPhone sales, that trend has reversed.

Apple, the world's largest publicly traded company by market capitalization, has seen its still-outsized weight within the S&P 500 slip to 2.90 percent of the index from 4.03 percent when its stock was at its all-time high, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Excluding Apple, the S&P 500 information technology index would be up 4.74 percent in 2016 instead of its actual 3.01 percent gain.


(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Leslie Adler)