iPhone demand worries send ripples through global markets

LONDON (Reuters) – World stock markets fell on Tuesday as worries over softening demand for the iPhone prompted a sell-off by tech stocks around the world, while the arrest of car boss Carlos Ghosn pulled down Nissan and Renault.

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, November 19, 2018. REUTERS/Staff

The dollar sagged on concern about the U.S. economy after home builder sentiment weakened and oil prices fell half a percent despite OPEC production cuts.

News around Apple Inc triggered the latest bout of stock market selling, after the Wall Street Journal reported Apple was cutting production for its new iPhones.

The European tech sector sank 2.2 percent, hitting its lowest level since February 2017, following Asian tech stocks lower. Shares of companies supplying chips to Apple suffered.

The selloff was compounded by an auto sector drop led by Nissan and Renault after Ghosn, chairman of both carmakers, was arrested in Japan for alleged financial misconduct.

The broad European STOXX 600 index was down 0.5 percent to a four-week low, and futures trading suggested another tough session was likely in the United States, with Nasdaq Futures down over 1 percent.

“Most of Europe had a red session yesterday and that has been compounded by the news on Apple and tech stocks overnight, The overall climate is risk-off,” said Investec economist Philip Shaw.

“Beyond stocks, the Italian bonds spread (over German bonds) is at its widest in about a month now, and Brexit continues to rumble on – uncertainty is very much hurting risk sentiment,” he said.

Italian government bond yields jumped to a one-month high on Tuesday and Italian banking stocks dropped to a two-year low, hurt by risk aversion and concerns over the Italian budget. [GVD/EUR]

Euro zone money markets no longer fully price in a 10-basis- point rate rise by the European Central Bank in 2019, indicating growing concern about the economic outlook in the region.

Earlier, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 1.2 percent, with Samsung Electronics falling 2 percent. In Japan, Sony Corp shed 3.1 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei slipped 1.1 percent, with shares of Nissan Motor Co tumbling more than 5 percent after Ghosn’s arrest and reports he would be fired from the board this week.

Global stock markets have suffered a shakeout in the past two months, pressured by worries of a peak in corporate earnings growth, rising borrowing costs, slowing global economic momentum and international trade tensions. Trillions of dollars were wiped off equities in a particularly torrid October.

In currencies, the dollar hovered near a two-week low against a basket of currencies.

Data released on Monday showed U.S. home builder sentiment recorded its steepest one-month drop in more than four years in November.

The dollar had also been undercut by Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida and Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan, who raised concerns late last week about a possible global slowdown.

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Oil prices lost ground as fears about slower global demand and a surge in U.S. production outweighed expected supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Brent crude slipped 0.6 percent to $66.39 per barrel.

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Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan; Additional reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro; editing by David Stamp, Larry King

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