The daily business briefing: July 31, 2019

Trump says China is stalling trade talks hoping to negotiate with a Democrat, Apple shares rise despite falling iPhone sales, and more

The Apple logo in Shanghai
(Image credit: HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Trump says China stalling trade deal hoping to negotiate with Democrat

President Trump on Tuesday said that China is trying to stall trade negotiations hoping a Democrat will win the 2020 presidential election and be a pushover. "They would just love if I got defeated," he said, "so they could deal with somebody like Elizabeth Warren or Sleepy Joe Biden." Trump tweeted that China shouldn't wait because "if & when I win, the deal that they get will be much tougher." Trump also insisted China is being hurt more than the U.S. in the trade war. Trump's comments came as representatives of the world's two largest economies met in Shanghai to restart talks on ending their tariff war. The meeting wrapped up Wednesday. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said U.S. flip-flops were holding up a deal.

The Associated Press CNBC

2. Apple shares rise on strong earnings despite falling iPhone sales

Apple on Tuesday reported that its profit fell by 13 percent to $10 billion in the latest quarter as iPhone sales continued to decline, but its earnings beat expectations, sending its stock rising by more than 4 percent in after-hours trading. Global iPhone sales declined by 12 percent, roughly meeting expectations, after falling by 17 percent in the previous quarter. Sales of the smartphone totaled $25.99 billion, marking their first drop to less than half of the company's quarterly revenue in seven years. Apple is trying to offset this weakness by getting more income from music and other digital services, a potential way to squeeze revenue growth out of the 900 million iPhones already in use. The company gave an optimistic outlook for the current quarter, helping to boost its shares.

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3. Fed expected to cut rates for first time in a decade

The Federal Reserve is expected to announce its first interest rate cut in a decade when it wraps up a two-day meeting on Wednesday. Fed leaders have telegraphed the move, saying such policies would help continue the economy's record-long expansion. Most analysts are anticipating a quarter-point cut, although some believe the Fed will cut rates by 50 basis points. Either way, it's unusual for the Fed to cut rates as data show "above trend growth" and such a strong labor market, rather than waiting to offer stimulus when the economy is heading into trouble, said Ethan Harris, head of global economic research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "There's no historical precedent," he said.


4. Samsung shares drop as falling chip prices drag down profits

Samsung shares fell by 3 percent early Wednesday after the South Korean electronics giant said that its profits in the most recent quarter fell by more than half compared to the same period a year ago, largely because of plunging prices for its memory chips. "The weakness and price declines in the memory chip market persisted as effects of inventory adjustments by major datacenter customers in the previous quarters continued, despite a limited recovery in demand," Samsung said. Quarterly operating profit totaled $5.6 billion, a 56 percent drop from the same quarter last year but still slightly better than the guidance Samsung provided earlier in July. Samsung said demand should grow in the rest of the year, but volatility would continue in the current quarter.


5. Stock futures rise ahead of Fed decision

U.S. stock index futures rose early Wednesday as investors braced for an expected interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve at the close of its two-day meeting later in the day. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3 percent, while those of the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were up by 0.2 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. The three main U.S. indexes retreated from last week's record highs for the second straight day on Tuesday after a mixed flurry of corporate earnings reports. The Dow dropped by 0.1 percent on Tuesday. The S&P 500 dropped 0.3 percent, and the Nasdaq fell by 0.2 percent.


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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.