Apple is at the sharp end of bad news in the Far Eastern markets, where analysts have downgraded the status of NatSteel Electronics, one of its trading partners.

NatSteel Electronics gains over half its revenues from its relationship with Apple computer, claims a Reuters report. Analyst Dharmo Soejanto said: "We are cutting our earnings forecast by 21 per cent for 2000 and another 20 per cent for the next financial year in light of Apple’s profit warning, and downgrading the stock to a sell."

More trouble for the company comes in the news from Japan’s anti-monopoly watchdog, the Fair Trade Commission, which announced yesterday that it has issued a warning to Apple Japan over suspected retail price fixing.

Japan’s FTC raided Apple’s offices in connection with these allegations in December last year. At the time, Apple strenuously denied the charges, which relate to the FTC’s suspicion that Apple Japan has pressurized retailers not to sell iMacs and iBooks at below retail list prices.

Meanwhile, Apple shares continue to fall, closing at $24.25 – down $1.50 on the day. The company’s market capitalization now stands at under $8 billion.

Apple has warned investors that it will return lower than expected results on October 18.