The rush to upgrade smartphones may be weakening, prompting economists to report modest outlooks for Asian exporters.
Early indications, including signs of disappointing orders, point to a mixed reaction to the latest iPhones, hurting the share prices of Apple Inc.’s suppliers. Given that smartphone improvements help power demand for electronics components from supply chain powerhouses, such as South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, a weaker upgrade cycle would have macro-economic implications too.
The weakening “smartphone effect” is not the only reason economists are sensing a dip in this year’s trade performance in Asia. Other threats include forecasts that China’s economy is slowing again and the shift by some developed-world central banks away from years of extraordinarily easy money.