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US stocks fall as Apple's surprise sales warning raises China virus concerns

People wearing face masks, walk past an Apple store at a shopping mall, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, in Beijing, China (Photo: Reuters)Premium
People wearing face masks, walk past an Apple store at a shopping mall, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, in Beijing, China (Photo: Reuters)

  • The maker of iPhones said it will fall short of its revenue forecasts in the fiscal second quarter because of production problems in China
  • Walmart forecasts downbeat online sales growth; Kroger jumps as Berkshire Hathaway reveals $549 mn stake

New York: US stocks slipped in early trading Tuesday after technology giant Apple became the most well-known company to warn of a financial hit from the virus outbreak in China.

The maker of iPhones said it will fall short of its revenue forecasts in the fiscal second quarter because of production problems in China. Demand for iPhones is also down in China because stores are either closed or operating on reduced hours.

Technology stocks led the selling. Apple shed 2.4%. Chipmakers, which also rely heavily on China for sales and supplies, broadly slid. Intel shed 1.2%.

Banks and energy stocks also fell in the early going. Wells Fargo slid 1.1% and Schlumberger slipped 1.4%.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.56% from 1.58% late Friday. Crude oil prices fell 1.3%.

Utilities and companies that rely on consumer spending held up better than most of the market.

Walmart Inc forecast slowing online growth for the year after reporting weak results for the holiday quarter, suggesting it was leaking sales to Amazon.com. However, shares of the world's biggest retailer rose 1%.

Conagra Brands Inc shed 7.4% after the packaged food company lowered its full-year profit and sales outlook.

Kroger Co climbed 6.6% after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc unveiled a $549.1 million stake in the supermarket chain.

Asset manager Franklin Resources Inc said it would buy mutual fund company Legg Mason Inc in an all-cash deal valued at $4.5 billion, to create an investing giant with about $1.5 trillion in assets under management.

Shares of Franklin jumped 9.4% and Legg Mason surged 23.9%.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 0.2% as of 9:56 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 97 points, or 0.3%, to 29,295. The Nasdaq fell 0.2%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks fell 0.1%. European and Asian markets fell.

CHINA OUTBREAK: The viral outbreak that began in China has now infected more than 73,000 people and continues to hurt businesses worldwide. The majority of the cases and deaths remain centered in China.

Businesses continue to feel the economic impact from the virus. The Beijing auto show, the industry's biggest global event of the year, is being postponed indefinitely from its April date. Apple is the latest company to warn investors that the virus will hurt their financial performance.

Technology and health care companies have been the most vocal about mentioning the new coronavirus in their earnings conference calls, according to FactSet.

LOTS OF BENJAMINS: Financial services company Franklin Resources rose 8.5% after saying it is buying competitor Legg Mason for $4.5 billion. The deal will create a financial company with a combined $1.5 trillion in assets under management. Legg Mason shares rose 23.6%.

WEEK AHEAD: Investors face a shortened week because of Monday's President’s Day holiday, but there are still several key earnings and economic reports on tap.

More than three-quarters of the S&P 500 has already reported financial results, and 51 companies are scheduled to release results this week. Devon Energy and Concho Resources will report their results later Tuesday. Progressive will report results on Wednesday and ViacomCBS will report on Thursday.

The government will release its producer price index for January on Wednesday, along with housing starts data.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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