Via Yahoo Finance

Apple is temporarily closing its 42 shops in mainland China, one of its largest markets, amid the rapid spread of coronavirus.

The iPhone maker said in a statement it is shutting shops, corporate offices and contact centres in the country until February 9 “out of an abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts”.

The statement added: “Our thoughts are with the people most immediately affected by the coronavirus and with those working around the clock to study and contain it.”

China is Apple’s third biggest market in terms of sales behind the United States and Europe and it is also where most iPhones and other devices are made.

The Apple store in Beijing is one of 42 in mainland China (Ng Han Guan/AP)

Chief executive Tim Cook told analysts on Tuesday that uncertainty due to the outbreak will prevent the tech giant from offering more specific guidance about its financial performance in the coming months.

That came after it announced its results for the Christmas shopping season, which were far better than investors anticipated.

That performance propelled Apple’s stock price to new highs earlier this week, but the escalating uncertainty about the situation in China quickly dampened spirits.

Apple shares dropped 4% on Friday.

Mr Cook also said the company’s contractors in China have been forced to delay reopening factories that closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

He said the company is looking for ways to minimise supply disruptions. Some of its suppliers are in Hubei, the Chinese province at the centre of the outbreak that has been under lock-down for more than a week.

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