Apple's death cross: What you need to know

Shares of tech darling Apple have plunged throughout recent months, forming what is known as a “death cross” on Thursday.

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A death cross occurs when a stock’s short-term moving average crosses below its long-term moving average. Traders often view such a movement as a sign of a major impending sell-off.

The stock has plunged more than 30 percent since its recent peak in October, along with increased volatility in the broader equity market.

But this isn’t the first time Apple shares have formed a death cross.

The last one occurred in August 2015 – after which shares slid another 17.6 percent over the next three months, according to data from MarketWatch.

Shares formed a death cross in December 2012 and fell nearly 27 percent in the four months afterward.

The moving averages also crossed in September 2008, during the financial crisis.

Apple isn’t alone. Shares of Facebook, Netflix and Google’s parent company Alphabet all formed death crosses within the past few months.

While a death cross tends to signal continued downward momentum, it could be good news for some investors who may view it as a buying opportunity for the long term.

On Thursday, shares of Apple dropped 2.5 percent after a German court ruled the company must stop selling some older versions of its iPhone for infringing on patents held by chipmaker Qualcomm. It is the second such ruling in recent months.

Shares of Apple are down more than 7 percent so far this year. Over the past three months, the stock has fallen nearly 28 percent.