It's unclear exactly what triggered the sudden waterfall in markets - most notably Nasdaq and the major momo tech names - but some are suggesting headlines from China's Global Times on iPhone sales collapsing could have been the catalyst.
Just before 11amET, Global Times tweeted the following...
Due to #COVID19 outbreak, #Apple's iPhone sales in #China may fall by at least 40-50% in February and March compared with the same period last year, and its Q1 sales are likely to be less than half of the same quarter in 2019: industry analyst https://t.co/h2djnLUZDf pic.twitter.com/PVIamvFth4— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) February 20, 2020
The smartphone industry has been hit hard, as the COVID-19 outbreak continues. Industry analysts forecasted Apple's iPhone sales in China may fall by at least 40 percent to 50 percent in February and March compared with the same period last year.
Liang Zhenpeng, a senior industry expert, told the Global Times on Thursday the COVID-19 outbreak has dealt a heavy blow to the sales of all mobile phone suppliers in China, including Apple.
"The iPhone's sales in the first quarter of this year are likely to be less than half of the same quarter in 2019," he said. "Mobile phone sales, both online or offline, are very difficult during this period, because the supply chains can hardly be normalized."
Apple is not the only smartphone company that has been hit by the epidemic
China's smartphone shipment declined 50 percent to 60 percent during the 2020 Spring Festival holidays due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. So far, about 60 million smartphones remain unsold, among which Huawei's devices account for one-third, industry analysts said.
"There are at least hundreds of components involved in a mobile phone, and if one manufacturer is unable to resume work due to the outbreak, the entire supply chain will be cut off," Liang said, adding that the mobile phone industry may soon recover about 80 percent normal sales rate if the epidemic can be contained by late March.
And that coincided with the acceleration in AAPL's plunge...
We suspect there is more at play here given the moves in the factors but that headline definitely spooked some algos.