Apple Inc. (AAPL - Get Report) shares traded higher Wednesday as investors reacted to a bullish assessment on U.S.-China trade talks from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that could remove some of the recent tariff-related risks that have clouded the tech group for the past two months.
Mnuchin told CNBC in a Wednesday interview in the Gulf state of Bahrian that a U.S.-China trade deal was "90 percent" complete, adding "I think there's a path to complete this" when President's Donald Trump and Xi Jinping meet later this week at the G20 Summit in Japan. The comments lifted U.S. equity futures, and look set to lead the Nasdaq Composite index into a solid 67 point gain at the opening bell following stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings, and a robust sector outlook, from smartphone chipmaker Micron Technology (MU - Get Report) .
"The message we want to hear is that they want to come back to the table and continue because I think there is a good outcome for their economy and the U.S. economy to get balanced trade and to continue to build on this relationship." Mnuchin said.
Apple shares were marked 2.3% higher at the start of trading Wednesday to change hands at $200.01 each, a move that was supported by its late-Tuesday purchase of self-driving startup Drive.ai.
Apple formally asked the U.S. government not to accelerate tariffs on China-made goods imported into the United States last week, telling the U.S. Trade Representative the move would hurt its global competitiveness.
Apple also argued that is has created 2 million American jobs, and plans to invest $350 million over the next five years, and thus should be excluded or protected from President Donald Trump's threat to impose a 25% tariff on $300 billion worth of China-made goods, which include the flagship iPhone, later this summer.
"U.S. tariffs on Apple's products would result in a reduction of Apple's U.S. economic contribution" and "weigh on Apple's global competitiveness," Apple wrote in comments published by the USTR. "A U.S. tariff would, therefore, tilt the playing field in favor of our global competitors."
Apple CEO Tim Cook has said he doesn't expect China, where the group earns around a fifth of its revenues, to target his company with specific tariffs, but several Wall Street analysts have warned of the impact they could have on Apple's most lucrative product.
Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Hubety said in a note published Tuesday that Apple's share of the China smartphone market installed based posted year-on-year gains for a fifth consecutive month in May to reach 19.5%.
"Combined with accelerating App Store growth in China, we believe this represents a constructive data point when juxtaposed against weak China demand environment late last year and investor
fears of a dramatic drop-off in near-term iPhone demand in China," Huberty wrote. "In our view, iPhone price cuts, greater usage of financing vehicles, lower VAT taxes and Chinese consumer confidence that is up ~10 points from last summer (per the National Bureau of Statistics of China) are contributing to surprisingly stable demand trends."
Last month, however, Goldman Sachs analysts pegged the downside risk to Apple's earnings, based on its China exposure, at around 29%, adding that a move to restrict iPhone production in China would force it to move elsewhere, but cautioned that would take time and hurt profits.