SAN FRANCISCO — Apple said on Monday that it was cutting its sales expectations because of the coronavirus in China, in a sign that the outbreak has hit global business and is set to exact a steep toll.
The iPhone maker, which is highly dependent on Chinese factories and Chinese consumers, said in a statement that its supply of smartphones would be hurt because production was ramping up more slowly than expected as China reopened its factories. Apple also said that demand for its gadgets in China had been hurt by the outbreak; it closed all of its stores in the country last month and they have yet to reopen.
“Work is starting to resume around the country, but we are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated,” said Apple, one of the world’s most valuable public companies.
Apple is one of the first to publicly disclose what is likely to be a difficult chain effect from China and the virus on the business world. Many global companies rely on factories in China to manufacture everything from socks to laptop computers. And Chinese consumers, who had ridden a wave of rising wealth, had snapped up luxury goods, iPhones and many other items.
Fears over the coronavirus’s impact on the global economy have been growing. The Japanese economy — the third largest after the United States and China — slipped 6.3 percent in the last quarter of 2019, before the outbreak, and may fall into recession since Japan relies on a lucrative flow of Chinese tourists and exports to that country’s enormous market of consumers.
The coronavirus outbreak has also hobbled one of Germany’s most important customers and suppliers. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles temporarily shut a factory in Serbia because of shortages of Chinese parts. The shutdown, apparently the first by a carmaker in Europe, added to concerns that the coronavirus could sap what little growth the Continent has been able to muster recently.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.