Asian markets were mixed on Thursday after tumbling more than 1 percent on the first trading day of 2019. Apple downgraded its sales projections, citing slowing Chinese growth, hitting technology shares in South Korea and Taiwan. The Japanese yen, seen as a relatively safe asset, strengthened against the dollar, euro and several other Asian and European currencies.
KEEPING SCORE: South Korea's Kospi lost 0.2 percent to 2,007.06 and Taiwan's benchmark fell 0.5 percent. The Shanghai Composite index was flat at 2,465.36, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.3 percent at 25,058.69. Australia's S&P-ASX 200 rebounded 1.4 percent to 5,632.80. Shares fell in Taiwan and Singapore but rose in Indonesia and the Philippines. Japan's markets were closed.
WALL STREET: A turbulent day on Wall Street saw stocks plunging before recovering and finishing slightly higher. Surveys by the China's government and a major business magazine that showed Chinese manufacturing had slowed in December weighed on sentiment. Still, the broad S&P 500 index added 0.1 percent to 2,510.03 on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which lost 398 points in the first few minutes of trading, closed 0.1 percent higher at 23,346.24. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.5 percent to 6,665.94. The Dow future contract was down 1.4 percent early Thursday and that for the S&P 500 lost 1.3 percent.
APPLE RELEASE: Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a letter to shareholders released after markets closed on Wednesday that he expects the tech giant's revenue for the October-December quarter to fall below internal and analysts' projections. Apple now expects revenue of $84 billion for the quarter, about 9 percent lower than the $91.3 billion estimate from analysts polled by FactSet. The official results will be released on Jan. 29. Cook attributed most of the revenue drop to China, where the economy has been slowing and where U.S. tariffs have been raised on more than $200 billion in goods, although the iPhone hasn't been affected directly so far. The company's shares fell 7.6 percent to $146 in after-hours trading.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "A flight to safety following the series of aggravating releases since the turn of the year saw the rush into the yen this morning. Doubling down on Asia markets for a second day today would be the latest downward revision in Q1 guidance from tech giant, Apple," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a market commentary. "The already shaky foundation for Apple owing to the likelihood of the company's products being enlisted into the tariffs scuffle saw their latest move to lower revenue outlook packing a punch for share prices," she added.
ENERGY: Oil prices, which have fallen about 40 percent since last October, settled after jumping at the start of the year. Benchmark U.S. crude shed 83 cents to $45.71 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped 2.5 percent to $46.54 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 43 cents to $54.48 per barrel. It added 2.1 percent to $54.91 per barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 107.16 yen from 108.86 late Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.1366 from $1.1344.