Wednesday’s announcement from Apple sent shock waves through the financial markets on Thursday and set the stage for a 600+ point decline in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company essentially looked to warn investors that sales of its key iPhone product are slowing and the ongoing trade war with China is to blame.
What’s the Big Deal?
Apple CEO Tim Cook’s letter to investors stated that slowing sales would show up in the next earnings report. Cook reportedly cited unexpected “economic weakness in some emerging markets,” that lead to fewer iPhone upgrades than executives expected.
Cook later then reportedly said in an interview with CNBC that the weakness in sales was especially significant in China. According to an article from nbcnews.com, “Cook’s letter said that Apple now expected revenue of $84 billion for the most recent quarter. That is down from guidance issued two months ago, when the company forecast revenue from $89 billion to $93 billion.
There are signals that Apple’s smartphone-related revenue is slowing elsewhere, the letter said: “In some developed markets, iPhone upgrades also were not as strong as we thought they would be.” That’s partly because consumers are getting fewer subsidies from carriers, the letter said.”
Apple Is Not the Only Problem
Although the news from Apple sent the stock sharply lower, other news may have also played a big role in dragging the broader markets down. On Thursday, the latest reading on ISM manufacturing sank to its lowest level in two years. Although a reading of 54.1 still indicates expansion, the rate of expansion is sharply slower. A recent article from cnbc.com quoted Timothy Fiore, Chair for the Institute of Supply Management, as saying: "Comments from the panel reflect continued expanding business strength, but at much lower levels. Demand softened, with the New Orders Index retreating to recent low levels, the Customers' Inventories Index remaining too low — a positive heading into the first quarter of 2019 — and the Backlog of Orders declining to a zero-expansion level."
The weaker-than-expected ISM report is just another in a string of manufacturing data that has shown increasingly weaker conditions.
At a time when there are already serious concerns over the health of the global economy, any further weakness in the sector could fuel significant risk aversion as fears of recession take center stage.
The gold market saw more safe-haven buying interest yesterday as it approaches the $1,300 per ounce level. The market is seeing some profit-taking today, however, as a stellar jobs report and some reassurances from Fed Chief Jerome Powell lift stocks. In early action, the spot gold price is down $7.74/oz at $1284.06. The market is already well-off its session lows, however, as buyers appear quite comfortable stepping in to buy the dip.
Despite today’s profit-taking, the market remains in an uptrend and may see fresh highs in the sessions ahead. The $1,300 area may provide a degree of resistance and could take a few attempts to break through. If the market does stage an upside breakout, additional buying interest may be seen as momentum and technical traders look to take advantage.