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US markets end lower as Apple posts its biggest percentage drop since 2013

The US markets ended deeply in red on Thursday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average sinking more than 600 points as weak economic data and a rare sales warning from Apple sparked fresh worries among investors about a global slowdown. Negative sentiment was generated as Apple Inc. posted its biggest percentage drop since 2013 after Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company now expects fiscal first quarter revenue of approximately $84 billion compared to its previous forecast for revenue of $89 to $93 billion. Cook attributed the lower guidance to a significantly greater than expected impact from economic weakness in some emerging markets. He added, 'In fact, most of our revenue shortfall to our guidance, and over 100 percent of our year-over-year worldwide revenue decline, occurred in Greater China across iPhone, Mac and iPad.' Apple skidded 10% for its biggest one-day percentage decline since January 24, 2013.

On the economic front, indicating a notable slowdown in the pace of growth in US manufacturing activity in the month of December, the Institute for Supply Management released a report showing a much bigger than expected drop by its index of activity in the manufacturing sector. The ISM said its purchasing managers index tumbled to 54.1 in December after rising to 59.3 in November, slumping its lowest level since hitting 53.4 in November of 2016. While a reading above 50 still indicates growth in manufacturing activity, street had expected the index to show a more modest drop to a reading of 57.9. Meanwhile, a report released by the Labor Department showed a bigger than expected increase in first-time claims for US unemployment benefits in the week ended December 29. The report said initial jobless claims climbed to 231,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised level of 221,000. Street had expected jobless claims to edge up to 220,000 from the 216,000 originally reported for the previous month.

Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 660.02 points or 2.83 percent to 22686.22, Nasdaq declined 202.43 points or 3.04 percent to 6463.50 and S&P 500 was down by 62.14 points or 2.48 percent to 2447.89.

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