After Apple, Attention Turns Back to Market Risks

Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) shares rose to the point that its market cap topped $1 trillion. The event created a vacuum for all other financial and market news. Now, attention can turn back to whether the market can hold on to the extraordinary gains it has made in nearly a decade.

Part of the Apple story is that its effects on the indexes are so great that its share price increase has been a major component of the improvement in the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial index. That has somewhat blotted out how the other stocks in the indexes have performed. For example, among other tech components of the Dow, International Business Machine Corp. (NYSE: IBM) shares are off almost 7% so far this year.

Moving away from tech stocks in the Dow, other sectors, some of which used to dominate the stock market, have stumbled. First among these are retail and energy. Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE: XOM) are among the largest companies in the world based on sales. So far this year, Walmart shares are off 10% and Exxon’s are down over 4%. These two public corporations represent a huge part of the economy. There is no reason to think that either will rebound, based on the futures of their sectors.

While trade problems could change Apple’s fortunes, primarily because it does so much business in China and with Chinese manufacturers, much of the broader market is at even more risk. From car companies to agribusiness, Chinese tariffs could be ruinous, and the portions of the stock market that move based on the operators in these sectors could crater.

Finally, shares in large companies in the consumer goods sector are in trouble. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) shares are down over 6% this year. Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) shares are down 10% over the same period. These two Dow components represent an industry in which price increases are hard to come by because of a lack of increase in consumer spending and competition from less well-known brands.

In short, the success of Apple has hidden a multitude of problems within the larger market.

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