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Global stocks surged Tuesday on news President Trump will wait until mid-December to slap new tariffs on laptops, iPhones, toys, and some other imports from China (sorry Apple Watch and AirPods–wearables didn't get a reprieve). Investors cheered the move as a sign trade negotiations between the United States and China, suspended since August 1 when Trump vowed to impose tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese imports, are back on track. Tech sector stocks led the way, with Apple alone up 4% on the news. Qualcomm, Intel, and Nvidia were up 3% each.
It was a classic Trump maneuver: whacking China with a stick, then dangling a carrot to minimize market fallout. Trump stoked investor optimism on Tuesday by describing recent conversations between negotiators from the two nations as "productive."
But as the The Donald giveth, he also taketh away. The new reprieve comes just as another—this one granting Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies a 90-day exemption from a national security ban—is set to expire.
The Huawei exemption was announced back in May, following a Commerce Department decision to add the Shenzhen-based giant and 68 other companies to a national security blacklist that effectively bars them from purchasing from U.S. suppliers. The edict dealt a potentially crippling blow to Huawei, which relies on Google's Android operating system to power its smartphones and purchases more than $11 billion from American firms including Qualcomm, Intel, and Micron Technology.
The earlier exemption, too, helped contain market chaos. But it was billed as a fleeting stay of execution, not a permanent "get out of jail free" card. The grace period will expire on Monday, August 19.
Goldman Sachs, in a recent report, warns "retaliation by China appears possible should the August 19 deadline pass without another extension." That could zap tech stocks yet again.
Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei boasts that his company has stockpiled enough components to minimize disruption to its supply chain. Earlier this week, at a developers' conference in Dongguan, Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's consumer business, unveiled "HarmonyOS," a new proprietary operating system for smartphones. But Huawei has offered few details about the system's functionality and some analysts question whether it will appeal to consumers.
So what to expect next Monday? More drama, of course! As Trump himself loves to say: we'll have to see what happens.
On Twitter: @ claychandler
A little light reading. After many months of speculation, shared workspace startup WeWork filed to go public. The 220-page filing (plus a financial addendum) revealed WeWork’s revenue for the first half of 2019 doubled to $1.5 billion from a year earlier. The company’s net loss increased 25% to $905 million. WeWork’s paid user base also about doubled to 527,000 people as of June 30.
Dusting for prints. You can change your password but you can’t change your fingerprint, so they say. That’s too bad, because two security researchers uncovered an unencrypted database online containing more than one million people’s fingerprints plus some facial recognition data. The data set is part of the Biostar 2 biometric lock system used around the world.
If at first you don’t succeed. Messaging service Snap has said it’s really a camera company, so probably no surprise that Snap is back with an updated version of its Spectacles glasses-with-cameras product. The new Spectacles 3 have dual cameras but cost $380, double the price of prior versions.
Down the rabbit hole. That Pentagon cloud computing contract that just may never be awarded is under review by the military’s Office of the Inspector General. The review began in June, a month before President Trump said he would take “a very long look” at the process. Amazon and Microsoft are finalists for the $10 billion project known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure.
Not on my watch. The Federal Aviation Administration has banned some older Apple MacBook Pro models from flights due to recalled batteries. The ban covers 15-inch MacBook Pros sold between September 2015 and February 2017.
Don’t make me do it. In other news from the government, the chair of the Federal Trade Commission said he would consider breaking up big tech companies, if necessary. “If you have to, you do it,” FTC chair Joe Simons told Bloomberg in an interview. “It’s not ideal because it’s very messy. But if you have to you have to.”
Another log on the pyre. Facebook was the latest company to admit it had contractors listening to recorded conversations of users. The company said it had paused the process, as Apple, Google, and Amazon have done. Facebook said the audio came from Messenger users who wanted voice chats transcribed.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The Baby Boomers are aging, everyone is working longer before retiring, and yet the tech industry isn’t exactly known for its openness to older people. Ageism is “the last ism” society has yet to address, Tom Kamber tells writer Lauren Smiley in a piece for the MIT Technology Review. But Kamber’s not standing by. He’s the director of a New York City senior center called Senior Planet to teach and train older people about technology–everything from navigating Facebook to selling things on Etsy.
Roughly one in five arrive wanting to use technology to work and make money—whether because they’ve gotten bored with retirement or to turn a passion into a side hustle. They want Etsy and Instagram, Google Suite and Microsoft Word. They want to process payments on PayPal, and build a Wix website, and email video clips for acting auditions. They want to open stores aimed at older people like themselves, and launch magazines for curvy women, and drive around Harlem in their own dog-grooming van. They may want to reach their goals even more than younger folks do, because when you get to a certain age, “your horizon is shorter—your dreams become more critical and urgent,” Kamber says.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Why You Should Wait Until September to Buy an iPhone By Don Reisinger
The Viacom CBS Merger Could Dim Netflix’s Rising Star By Aaron Pressman
British Airways Has Yet Another Security Problem, New Report Says By Alyssa Newcomb
BEFORE YOU GO
So back in 1991 the star Hollywood director Sidney Lumet (who died in 2011) had a suggestion for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Shouldn’t there be an Oscar awarded for best stunts? He had his stunt coordinator Jack Gill inquire and Gill was told the process might take “three or four years.” Fast forward to 2019 and Gill is still waiting. But it’s a great idea, as New York Magazine‘s Vulture blog writes this week.