LONDON - Apple's first sales warning in nearly 12 years sent European shares sliding on Thursday, with the tech sector particularly badly bruised as chipmakers that supply the iPhone maker fell sharply.
The pan-European STOXX 600 fell 0.7 percent as Europe joined a selloff in Asia with the Apple warning compounding concerns about global growth.
Apple's Frankfurt-listed shares fell 7.9 percent after the tech giant cut its sales forecast, blaming weaker iPhone sales in China, whose economy has been hit by a trade war with the U.S.
Germany's DAX, highly sensitive to Chinese growth, fell 0.9 percent.
Chipmakers that supply parts to Apple were the worst hit. Shares in AMS, which provides the facial recognition sensors used in the latest iPhones, fell as much as 19 percent to the bottom of the STOXX.
Dialog Semiconductor tumbled 6.7 percent, while Infineon, ASML, ASM International, Logitech, and STMicroelectronics fell 4 to 7.3 percent.
"The last Apple guidance in November saw a plethora of supply chain companies come out and follow suit in the following couple of weeks. You can expect more of the same this January," wrote Neil Campling, co-head of the global thematic group at Mirabaud Securities.
"...You can expect ongoing volatility and downside risk for the sector. It is tin-hat time."
The tech sector was the worst-performing, down 2.9 percent and only the telecoms and bank sectors stayed in the black.
Investors have dumped risk and preferred sectors considered defensive, like telecoms, which deliver large dividends and have steady revenues, as markets have turned sour.
"Globally, investors have no desire for risky assets," said Philippe Waechter, chief economist at Ostrum Asset Management in Paris.
Luxury goods shares, which are also highly sensitive to signs of slowing demand in China, joined the selloff.
LVMH, Gucci owner Kering , Moncler, Burberry , and Swatch were down 2.2 to 3.9 percent, among the biggest fallers.
Moves were exacerbated by thin volumes, with many investors still on festive holidays. Just 16 percent of the average daily volume in the STOXX 600 was traded in the first 100 minutes, usually the busiest.
Among rare gainers, Next shares topped the STOXX with a 5.1 percent rise after the clothing retailer reported a rise in sales in the run-up to Christmas in line with its expectations.
Peer Marks & Spencer gained 2.1 percent, while Primark owner ABF rose 1.7 percent and Tesco rose 2.1 percent.