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The daily business briefing: May 16, 2019

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Harold Maass
The Huawei logo in Spain
David Ramos/Getty Images
The daily business briefing newsletter
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1.

Trump signs order to protect communications networks from spies

President Trump on Wednesday declared a "national emergency" to counter threats against U.S. communications networks, giving the federal government power to ban foreign companies supplying technology that "poses an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States." Trump did not name any specific companies in his order, but after he issued it the Department of Commerce announced that Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei Technologies and its affiliates had been added to the Bureau of Industry and Security Entity List, a move that made it harder for the world's third largest smartphone maker to do business with American companies. The Trump administration has said Huawei equipment could be used by Beijing for spying, which the company denies. [The Washington Post, CNBC]

2.

Trump to delay decision on auto tariffs

President Trump plans to put off a decision on imposing tariffs on imported cars and parts, possibly for six months, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing three Trump administration officials. The Trump administration is considering using the tariffs to protect domestic automakers on national security grounds. A formal announcement on the administration's next move is expected Saturday. Automakers reportedly expect Trump to hold off on a decision pending trade negotiations with the European Union and Japan. Automakers, including General Motors, Volkswagen, and Toyota, have warned that imposing tariffs of up to 25 percent could cause severe damage to the industry. [Reuters]

3.

U.S. stocks set to gain as strong earnings offset China worries

U.S. stock index futures rose early Thursday, shaking off ongoing concerns over the U.S.-China trade war after Cisco Systems and Walmart reported earnings that beat Wall Street's expectations. Cisco shares rose by 3.5 percent in premarket trading after the company reported quarterly earnings and a current-quarter revenue guidance that topped expectations. Walmart shares rose by 1.4 percent ahead of the opening bell. Before the earnings reports came in, futures struggled on lingering trade tensions between the U.S. and China after President Trump declared a national emergency over technology threats and the Commerce Department blacklisted Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies, which makes telecommunications equipment Washington says Beijing could use for spying.

4.

Walmart says new tariffs on Chinese goods will drive up prices

Walmart said Thursday that prices will rise for shoppers due to President Trump's increased tariffs on Chinese imports, but that the company is working on ways to mitigate the impact on customers. Trump last week hiked tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, which could push up prices for products including clothing, furniture, and electronics. Walmart provided the warning as it reported quarterly earnings that beat expectations. Same-store sales increased by 3.4 percent, exceeding analysts' estimates of 3.1 percent growth, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Adjusted earnings per share were $1.13, topping expectations of $1.02. [Reuters]

5.

Koons' 'Rabbit' sculpture sells for a record $91 million

Jeff Koons' stainless steel sculpture "Rabbit" set a record on Wednesday when it sold for more than $91 million at Christie's in New York City. "Rabbit" is now the most expensive piece by a living artist to sell at auction. Christie's had estimated "Rabbit" would sell for between $50 and $70 million, CNN reports. The 1986 sculpture is over three feet tall, and comes from the collection of the late publisher S.I. Newhouse; there are two other "Rabbit" sculptures in the world, with one owned by the Broad Foundation in Los Angeles and the other promised to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. In November, David Hockney's "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" set the record for most expensive work by a living artist to sell at auction, going for $90.3 million. [CNN]