The biggest story for investors on Thursday was Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook’s letter to investors, 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.
Asian equities also tumbled Thursday, while U.S. futures pointed to a negative open. South Korea’s Kospi slid almost 0.2 percent as domestic Apple suppliers fell, while China’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.5 percent. Dow futures, meanwhile, indicated a 300-point drop at the open, with S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures more than 1 percent lower.
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.
On the corporate front, U.K. fashion retailer Next will release a trading statement today. In terms of data, Swiss SVME Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), U.K. construction PMI and euro zone money supply figures are due in the morning.