The daily business briefing: February 21, 2019

Harold Maass
The new Samsung Galaxy
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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U.S., China work on outline of trade deal

Negotiators from the U.S. and China have started outlining a deal to end their trade war, Reuters reported late Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the talks underway in Washington. The two sides are pushing for an agreement before March 1, when the three-month truce in their exchange of tit-for-tat tariffs is scheduled to end. Representatives of the world's two biggest economies remain far apart on President Trump's demand for reforms to make China's trade policies more fair to the U.S. The tariffs already imposed affect hundreds of billions of dollars of goods, and they have been blamed for hurting global economic growth. [Reuters]


Samsung unveils foldable smartphone

Samsung on Wednesday revealed its long-anticipated smartphone with a foldable screen, hoping to give the smartphone market a badly needed jolt of innovation. It was not immediately clear whether the device would grab customers, particularly considering its price, $1,980. The Galaxy Fold, which will be released April 26, can serve like a traditional smartphone with a 4.6-inch screen, or unfold like a wallet and become a mini-tablet with a 7.3-inch screen. In that mode, it can run three apps on the screen at one time. The device also has six cameras. "Get ready for the dawn of a new era," said DJ Koh, who oversees Samsung's smartphone division. [The Associated Press]


Stocks edge higher after release of Fed minutes

Stocks made slight gains Wednesday after the Federal Reserve released minutes from a meeting last month in which the central bank's policy makers noted rising threats to the U.S. economy. Due to the threats, which included the government shutdown and trade tensions, the Fed decided to be "patient" about raising interest rates any further. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 gained about 0.2 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite was just above flat, gaining 2.3 points to close just over 7,489. U.S. stock index futures fluctuated early Thursday, with all three of the main U.S. indexes rising slightly then edging down by about 0.1 percent. [CNBC, Reuters]


Google says it forgot to mention Nest alarm system's microphone

Google said Wednesday that it had forgotten to disclose that its Nest Secure home alarm system included a microphone. The announcement came after the company said earlier this month its voice assistant feature would be available with the product's Nest Guard feature that controls alarm sensors. Google said in a statement that the omission was a mistake. "The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs," it said. Still, the error amounted to the latest in a series of privacy missteps by Google and other internet giants involving data collection practices. [The Associated Press]


CVS shares drop after 2019 guidance disappoints

CVS Health shares fell by about 8 percent on Wednesday after the drug-store giant released an earnings forecast that fell short of expectations. The pharmacy chain reported adjusted quarterly earnings of $2.14 a share, exceeding Bloomberg consensus estimates by $0.06. Its revenue of $54.42 billion beat expectations of $53.36 billion. CVS CEO Larry Merlo said the company had "successfully completed" its merger with Aetna in 2018, although implementing the "integrated health-care model" envisioned for the pharmacy and insurance companies contributed to the worse-than-expected guidance for 2019 profits. [CNBC, Business Insider]