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European stocks close lower as Apple guidance weighs

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 index fell 0.18 percent during afternoon trade on Thursday, with most sectors in the red.
  • European Apple suppliers fell after the firm lowered its first-quarter revenue guidance to $84 billion, with shares of Austrian chipmaker AMS plunging 20 percent.
  • U.S. markets also opened lower on Thursday as investors fretted over Apple and manufacturing data.

European markets closed lower on Thursday as a revenue guidance cut from Apple fueled fears of a slump in global economic growth.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended provisionally down 0.9 percent at the end of the session, with all major bourses in the red. The FTSE closed down 0.49 percent, while the CAC and the DAX were both around 1.5 percent lower.

Most sectors ended the session in the red, with only food and beverages, telecoms and utilities posting gains.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook's posted a letter to investors on Thursday in which he lowered the tech giant's first-quarter revenue guidance to $84 billion, down from the $89 billion to $93 billion that had previously been forecast. The firm also lowered gross margin expectations to approximately 38 percent, down from a previously projected 38-38.5 percent.

Apple blamed a number of factors for the climbdown in guidance, including weakness in China's economy and disappointing iPhone revenue. The news amplified fears of a downturn in global growth, as well as the effects of U.S.-Sino trade tensions on corporate earnings.

Europe's tech sector suffered as a result, losing more than 4 percent of its value by the closing bell. Apple suppliers in the continent also faltered, with shares of Austrian chipmaker AMS plunging 23 percent and Swiss firm STMicroelectronics down nearly 12 percent at the close.

U.K. fashion retailer Next was a rare winner during the session, gaining 4.1 percent after reporting a jump in Christmas sales. The firm posted a 9.2 percent rise in in-store sales and a 15.2 percent jump in online sales on Thursday.

Stateside, the U.S. partial government shutdown continues as Democrats contest President Donald Trump's demand for $5 billion to fund a wall on the border with Mexico.

U.S. markets were trading in negative territory on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping 1.9 percent. The S&P 500 fell 1.3 percent in morning trading, while the Nasdaq was down 1.5 percent.

Asian equities tumbled Thursday, with South Korea's Kospi sliding almost 0.81 percent at the close as domestic Apple suppliers fell. China's Hang Seng index dropped 0.22 percent.

Another focus for investors was an apparent "flash crash" in foreign exchange markets that saw the Japanese yen soar versus most major currencies within seconds. The U.S. dollar sank 1 percent against the yen to 107.83.

Elsewhere, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in an interview published Thursday that the U.K.'s withdrawal from the European Union poses an economic risk, although he added that he expected growth in Germany to continue.

According to a survey released by U.K. industry body the British Chambers of Commerce on Thursday, the percentage of services firms reporting a rise in domestic sales fell to the lowest level in two years in the fourth quarter.

In terms of data, the IHS Markit/CIPS U.K. Construction Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 52.8 in December, down from 53.4 in the previous month. That figure marked a three-month low, a sent the British pound tumbling 0.35 percent versus the dollar to 1.2563.

The Swiss SVME PMI figure, meanwhile, rose to 57.8 in December, beating expectations for a reading of 57.2.