January 3, 2019 / 12:52 AM / in 14 days

GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares skid as Apple warning stokes growth fears, 'flash crash' sweeps currencies

SHANGHAI, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Shares in Asia fell on Thursday and U.S. stock futures dropped sharply after Apple Inc cut its revenue forecast due in part to weaker sales in China, adding to concerns about the slowing global economy.

The Cupertino, California-based tech giant blamed fewer iPhone upgrades and slowing sales in China for the rare revenue warning, its first since 2007. Its shares tumbled 8 percent in after-hours trade.

The news also sparked a ‘flash crash’ in holiday-thinned currency markets as investors rushed to less risky assets, with the Japanese yen soaring against most major currencies in a matter of seconds.

MSCI’s broadest gauge of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.2 percent early in the Asian day and losses were expected to mount when trading opened in more tech-heavy markets in the region.

A jump in Australian shares, which rose 1.3 percent, helped to offset weakness elsewhere in the region after its currency fell to near decade lows, boosting exporters.

Overnight, shares on Wall Street slid in early trade on growth worries but later clawed back losses, with a surge in oil prices driving gains in energy shares.

But on Thursday morning, Nasdaq E-mini futures were down 2.2 percent and S&P 500 E-mini futures were 1.3 percent lower following Apple’s warning, which specifically highlighted slowing Chinese growth and Sino-U.S. trade tensions, exacerbating investors’ concerns about the state of the global economy.

“The fall in the EM manufacturing PMI last month was fairly broad-based and supports our view that growth in the emerging world as a whole will slow this year,” Gabriella Dickens, an economist at Capital Economics, said in a note.

Currency markets saw a wild spike in volatility in early Asian trade, with risk aversion pushing the yen sharply higher against the U.S. dollar, breaking key technical levels and triggering stop-loss sales of U.S. and Australian dollars.

The dollar was last 1.1 percent weaker against the yen at 107.65, while the Australian dollar hit levels against the Japanese yen not seen since 2011.

The euro was flat, buying $1.1342, and the dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of major rivals, was 0.15 percent weaker at 96.733.

Amid the flight to perceived safety, the yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes fell to 2.6328 percent compared with its U.S. close of 2.661 percent on Wednesday.

The two-year yield, was at 2.4777 percent compared with a U.S. close of 2.504 percent as signs of slowing growth ate away at expectations of further Federal Reserve rate hikes.

U.S. crude dipped 1.31 percent at $45.93 a barrel after a sharp rise on Wednesday. Brent crude rose to $54.68 per barrel.

Gold was higher as the dollar weakened, with spot gold trading at $1,286.54 per ounce.

Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Kim Coghill

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