USA stocks fell sharply on Thursday after yesterday's surprise revenue forecast downgrade from Apple CEO Tim Cook. Kevin Hassett, White House Council of Economic Advisors chief, said January 3 that "a heck a lot of USA companies that have sales in China are going to be watching their earnings being downgraded next year until we get a deal with China".
Investors were also unsettled by a report Thursday that showed signs of weakness in US manufacturing. Chipmakers and suppliers of phone parts also fell.
Cook told investors that the main drag on the firm's performance in China had been a sharper-than-expected slowdown in the country's economy, exacerbated by the impact of trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.
"Apple stock is now at a crossroads", said a research note Thursday from Gene Munster and Will Thompson of the investment firm Loup Ventures. It also led to big drops overall in the USA stock market, as well as other financial markets around the world.
Apple shares were under pressure Thursday morning, down more than 8%, after CEO Tim Cook sent a letter to shareholders warning that revenue for the crucial holiday quarter was going to come in below expectations.
The U.S. -China trade dispute threatens to snarl multinational companies' supply lines and reduce demand for their products.
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In August, Apple became the first USA firm to reach a market cap of more than $1 trillion, and coasted through most of 2018 as the highest-valued company in the world.
Since becoming Wall Street's first trillion-dollar company back in August, Apple's market cap has fallen by more than $300 billion. "There are a heck of a lot of USA companies that have sales in China that are going to be watching their earnings being downgraded next year until we get a deal with China".
The belt-tightening in the world's second-largest economy is bedeviling global industries, including autos and designer clothing, that count on China to drive sales growth. "We manage Apple for the long term, and Apple has always used periods of adversity to re-examine our approach, to take advantage of our culture of flexibility, adaptability and creativity, and to emerge better as a result".
Although many analysts were anxious over Apple's iPhone issues, one remains unconcerned and upgraded Apple shares to "neutral" instead of "sell." as CNBC noted. France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX were the biggest losers, shedding around 0.7%. In Asia, tech-related stocks suffered most.
'Typically my needs for my phone are high speeds for downloading videos or transferring files from chat apps. Skyworks Solutions Inc. fell as much as 6.6 per cent, while Broadcom Inc. slid 5 per cent and Qorvo Inc. dropped 5.2 per cent. Oil prices have nosedived nearly 40 percent since early October, and investors' fears about falling demand in China and elsewhere were a key reason for the decline. Services generated $10.8 billion in revenue for the quarter - a 27 percent increase from a year earlier.
In other commodities trading, wholesale gasoline rose 1.8 percent to $1.35 a gallon and heating oil climbed 2.4 percent to $1.74 a gallon.