Global stock markets plummeted on Thursday after iPhone maker Apple announced it would not meet its sales targets for the first quarter of 2019.
On Wednesday, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook announced in a shareholder letter that poor sales in China for its Mac, iPad, and iPhone products would result in significant revenue losses.
“Lower than anticipated iPhone revenue, primarily in Greater China, accounts for all of our revenue shortfall,” Cook wrote.
The letter set off fears that global economic growth is slowing, which could affect the financial prospects of other large U.S. companies.
What’s going on?
China is the second largest economy in the world, after the U.S. Not only Apple, but numerous other companies including General Motors, KFC, and Starbucks have staked much of their sales growth there in recent years. This spring, Starbucks even announced a surprising plan to open a store every 15 hours in China through 2022.
Rival tech firms such as China’s Huawei have also released cheaper alternatives to Apple’s high-end iPhone.
The Federal Reserve has also been increasing interest rates to keep inflation in check as the economy has gathered steam. And signs are that the holiday shopping season was robust, indicating that consumers are out in force and buying.
*As of January 3, 2019
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