Growing concerns about the health of the Chinese economy helped wipe $40bn off the value of Apple on Wednesday despite the company reporting a sharp increase in global sales and profits. The 5% fall in share price in the world’s biggest company was mirrored by a slide in shares in mining and commodity firms to their lowest levels since the stock market crash of 2008. Investors regard the mining and commodities industries as vulnerable to a slowdown in the world’s second biggest economy.
Oil, gold, zinc, copper and platinum prices were all down on a day when markets were dominated by second quarter results from Apple that showed strong growth but were less impressive than dealers had been anticipating.
Despite a doubling of sales of iPhones to China’s growing middle class over the past year, financial markets fear the recent official Chinese figures showing economic growth of 7% are exaggerated and that consumer demand may flag in the coming months.
The Chinese stock market has been focus of world attention in recent weeks after a collapse beginning in mid-June that prompted companies to suspend their shares to prevent even more precipitous declines. Retail investors – an estimated 90 million of them – had poured into the market, which has fuelled concerns that their losses may reduce their ability to generate demand for products in the future.