Apple tumbles as US stocks resume retreat

File: Apple operates 35 online stores and 506 retail stores on five continents.

File: Apple operates 35 online stores and 506 retail stores on five continents.

NEW YORK - Shares of Apple plunged at the start of trading on Thursday, weighing on the broader market after the tech giant cut its sales forecast due to weakness in China.

About 12 minutes into trading, the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 1.3 percent to 6,580.30, with Apple shedding about 8.8 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 1.4 percent to 23,027.14, while the broad-based S&P 500 slid 1.0 percent to 2,486.25.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook had said Wednesday that iPhone sales had been dented by steeper-than-expected "economic deceleration" in China, the latest sign of sluggishness in the world's second-biggest economy as a trade war between Beijing and Washington drags out.

Thursday's early losses on Wall Street were a sign that the stock market's struggles at the end of 2018 could extend well into the New Year as investors assess the impact of trade wars, Federal Reserve interest rate hikes and a US government shutdown.

"Against the backdrop of financial-market volatility, the government shutdown seems more threatening," said FTN Financial's Chris Low, describing the lack of progress in talks between President Donald Trump and congressional Democratic leaders.

On the positive side, an ADP employment report showed private-sector firms added 271,000 jobs in December, well above analyst forecasts. 

The data came ahead of Friday's more closely-watched Department of Labor report. Analysts expect the US added 180,000 jobs last month and unemployment held at 3.7 percent.

Drug company Celgene surged 28.7 percent after it reached a deal to be bought by the larger pharma company Bristol-Myers Squibb for $74-billion. Bristol-Myers fell 12 percent.