The daily business briefing: September 20, 2019

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Harold Maass
A U.S. flag and a Chinese flag
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

1.

U.S. exempts 400 Chinese products from tariffs as talks continue

The Trump administration is temporarily exempting about 400 Chinese products — including Christmas tree lights, some pet supplies, and plastic drinking straws — from the 25 percent tariff President Trump imposed on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, Politico reported Thursday. The details will be outlined in three notices to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, Politico said. The exclusions came as deputy trade officials from the U.S. and China entered the second day of face-to-face discussions aiming to set the stage for high-level talks in October. Both sides recently have made moves to soften the impact of the U.S.-China trade war both to show goodwill and to provide relief to domestic companies and farmers harmed by the levies. [Politico]

2.

Colt suspends production of AR-15 rifles

Gun manufacturer Colt announced Thursday that it would suspend production of its popular AR-15 assault-style rifle for the civilian market. The gunmaker will still make the weapons for its military and law enforcement customers. The move came as pressure mounts for limiting access to assault-style rifles after numerous gunmen have used them in deadly mass shootings. CEO Dennis Veilleux in a statement sought to reassure customers that Colt is still "committed to the consumer market" and the Second Amendment, but he said demand for Colt rifles had dwindled. American Military News noted that Colt's relatively high prices for popular rifle models had dented sales. Colt executive Paul Spitale said the suspension is "not forever." [The Associated Press, Colt]

3.

Airbnb announces plan to go public in 2020

Airbnb said Thursday that it plans to go public next year, making it the latest high-profile startup to begin offering stock to the public. The home-sharing company is valued by private investors at $31 billion, and its initial public offering of stock will be one of the biggest since a flurry of spring IPOs that included Uber, Lyft, and Pinterest. The news came a day after Airbnb said it had made "substantially more than" $1 billion in revenue in the second quarter, marking the second time its quarterly revenue had reached that threshold. Airbnb is one of the world's largest home-sharing platforms, with more than seven million listings in 100,000 cities around the world. [USA Today, The New York Times]

4.

Stock futures edge higher as U.S.-China trade talks continue

U.S. stock index futures made modest gains early Friday as U.S.-China trade talks remained in focus. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were all up by about 0.2 percent. The cautious pre-market trading came as deputy trade negotiators from the U.S. and China met for a second day in their first talks in two months. The discussions in Washington are part of an effort to prepare for high-level negotiations in October as the trade war threatens to slow global economic growth. The Federal Reserve this week cut interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point, joining central banks around the world that have announced economic stimulus efforts to confront the threat of economic trouble. [CNBC]

5.

Apple customers line up outside stores as iPhone 11 hits shelves

Apple fans lined up at the company's stores in Singapore, Sydney, Berlin, and other cities overnight ahead of the Friday debut of the tech giant's latest smartphones, the iPhone 11. About 100 people waited for doors to open at the Apple Store in central Sydney, which is one of the first cities for Apple's annual iPhone launches due to its time zone. "I'm here for the experience," said one 17-year-old customer. "All the news crew is here, everyone else is here, it's an environment you don't see with any other phone launch." This year's new versions include the iPhone 11, starting at $699, the high-end iPhone 11 Pro ($999), and iPhone 11 Pro Max ($1,099), with a new triple-camera system. [CNET, CNBC]