Apple worries send US markets lower

Worries over the impact of the new coronavirus outbreak on Apple sent Wall Street to a lower close on Tuesday.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 illness in China has killed nearly 1,900 people and infected more than 72,000 others, disrupting business operations in China while causing countries to close borders and cancel flights.

Apple announced Monday it would miss its March quarter revenue forecast while global iPhone supplies would fall, and the tech giant’s share price fell 1.8 percent to $319.

Russia on Tuesday announced it would ban all Chinese citizens from entering the country as of February 20, stepping up the clampdown on transportation to the Asian economic power.

With traders on edge, the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.6 percent and finished the day at 29,232.19, and the broad-based S&P 500 dipped 0.3 percent to close at 3,370.29.

Meanwhile, the tech-rich Nasdaq was essentially flat at 9,732.74, inching up just enough to set a new all-time high.

“The big news is Apple, and the big worry is to what extent does it signal that the Chinese economy is going to come back slower than what the stock market is looking for? It is still a giant unknown,” said Karl Haeling of LBBW.

“It is not a surprise that Apple had to revise its target lower, but maybe the timing of it suggests that the magnitude of the problem is larger than expected.”

It wasn’t gloomy everywhere. Walmart reported fourth quarter earnings that were below expectations, but the top private employer in the United States still closed with a gain of 1.5 percent at $119.63.

Netflix was up 1.9 percent and electric automaker Tesla climbed 7.3 percent.

But in a sign markets were truly rattled, gold saw its price jump 1.2 percent to $1,605.5 per-ounce indicating investors’ increasing desire for a financial safe haven.

Traders are looking ahead to US data on new housing construction set to be released on Wednesday morning, followed by minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting.