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Markets overnight on Wall Street were tepid, as investors considered the possibility of a trade deal being struck between the U.S. and China. Officials from Washington and Beijing will continue talks this week with a focus on intellectual property.

Axios reported on Sunday, citing two administration officials, that U.S. President Donald Trump’s advisors have informally discussed holding a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping next month at the Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club in Florida. That meeting could take place as soon as mid-March, the report said.

That report comes after Trump said last week that a meeting between him and Xi would not happen before an early March deadline. If a trade deal is not reached before the deadline, additional U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods will take effect. That deadline could be moved, however, a White House official told CNBC last week.

“I think the most likely scenario is a deal with no more tariffs being imposed going forward,” David Cui, head of China equity strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Tuesday.

“There’s a possibility they keep existing tariffs imposed last year for a while to monitor performance, but I think (it is) highly unlikely there will be more tariffs imposed. It’s also possible to delay the negotiation for a couple of more months to nail down some of the details. I think the least likely scenario is a … complete breakdown of the negotiation,” he added.

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Americans support free trade — and are worried about the Trump economy: poll

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China’s President Xi Jinping (L) and US President Donald Trump attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017.

AFP Contributor | AFP | Getty Images

Add President Trump to the list of those hurt by his trade war.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Americans growing more uneasy about Trump’s handling of the economy, which has been one of his principal strengths. That erosion comes in tandem with rising public support for free trade as the Trump administration’s tariff conflict with China rattles financial markets and business confidence.

By a narrow 49%-46% margin, Americans still approve of Trump’s handling of the economy. But that’s down from 51%-41% approval in early May and an even more robust 50%-34% in July 2018.

At the same time, Americans now say they approve of free trade by 64%-27%, a margin of better than two to one. That’s up from 57%-37% early in Trump’s presidency, and 51%-41% near the end of President Obama’s tenure.

That more positive assessment was driven most sharply by political independents, who now embrace free trade by a 77%-15% margin; among Democrats, the margin is 73%-20%. But even Trump’s fellow Republicans have turned positive toward free trade, 52%-39%, after viewing it more skeptically early in his administration.

Trump’s overall approval ticked down slightly in the survey to 43% from 45% in July. That remains within the range of earlier results for a president whose ratings with a sharply-polarized electorate have stayed remarkably stable.

Public sentiment about Trump’s re-election campaign remains similarly stable. Just 40% of Americans say they plan to vote for him in 2020, up two points from last December. The proportion planning to vote against him stayed at 52%.

The survey found modestly increased support for a ban on military-style assault weapons in the wake of recent mass shootings. A 62% majority now express support for a ban, up from 51% in June 2016.

Large majorities also back expanded background checks for gun purchasers, “red flag” laws to identify dangerous individuals, and a voluntary program in which the government would buy back firearms from current owners. But the poll also showed the limits of the public’s appetite for pressuring Congress to act.

Nearly half of Americans, 45%, said they worried the government will go too far in restricting gun rights, while 50% worry the government may not go far enough. Meantime, the survey showed the proportion of Americans who say someone in their household owns a gun has risen to 46%, up from 42% in previous surveys.

Americans have not been impressed by Trump’s response to recent mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso. By 52%-36%, the poll shows they disapprove of how he has handled the aftermath of those tragedies. A 54% majority says that the language the president uses in his speeches and on Twitter bears significant responsibility for the shootings.

The telephone survey of 1,000 adults, conducted Aug. 10-14, carries a margin for error of 3.1 percentage points.

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Why Apple doesn’t want users to replace their own batteries

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Apple CEO Tim Cook

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

The two recent incidents involving Apple products show a growing risk to the company’s brand: the lithium-ion batteries that power its devices.

First, the Federal Aviation Administration disclosed last week that some Apple laptops have been banned from flights. This comes after Apple recalled some 15-inch MacBook Pro laptop models because the batteries inside the computers pose a fire hazard.

The official recall put into motion a regulatory apparatus designed to prevent a rogue gadget from bursting into flames on a flight. The bottom line is that if any battery from any company is recalled, it “must not” be carried aboard — or checked in luggage — on an aircraft until it’s been repaired by the manufacturer, says the Federal Aviation Administration.

“The FAA is aware of the recalled batteries that are used in some Apple MacBook Pro laptops. In early July, we alerted airlines about the recall, and we informed the public,” the FAA said in a statement.

Separately, Apple responded to an uproar when customers discovered that it really doesn’t want them replacing their own batteries.

Repair experts discovered that a menu inside the iPhone settings app will display a warning message if the iPhone battery wasn’t replaced by an Apple store or authorized servicer. iFixit, which creates repair guides and sells parts and tools, suggested that Apple was trying to prevent any shops without Apple authorization from replacing batteries.

Apple’s response centered around safety: “This information is there to help protect our customers from damaged, poor quality, or used batteries which can lead to safety or performance issues,” Apple said in a statement.

In both cases, Apple’s recommendation to users is the same: Get the battery replaced by Apple or an authorized service center.

Here’s why.

Fake batteries cause problems

Apple mobile phones iPhone 6 on screens of which we can see the battery charge indicator.

Chesnot | Getty Images

Fake replica batteries that look authentic are a growing problem not only for Apple, but for many electronics companies, said Nadim Maluf, CEO of Qnovo, which makes software that monitors the health and flow of power inside batteries for devices including Android phones.

“In China, people are amazingly good when a new model is launched by Apple or Samsung or LG, taking the battery out, taking the dimensions, and making a replica,” he continued. “What’s inside, is who knows, usually made by 2nd and 3rd and 4th tier manufacturers.”

People buy fake batteries online, or repair shops buy them from unauthorized sources. These batteries can have chemistry issues which make them swell up, eventually leading to a fire, Maluf said.

“All that feeds into a safety hazard, and that damages the reputation of the OEM,” Maluf said. Hypothetically, in a public situation, “Apple will take the hit for it even though the battery came from an unknown source.”

In the last year, Apple introduced a feature in the iPhone settings app that warns users that the device can’t verify that it’s an “genuine Apple battery” and removes other battery health statistics such as its maximum capacity. Maluf expects other device companies to follow.

Apple has also fought counterfeit batteries in the legal system and on online retailers, but it does not sell authentic batteries directly to users. Apple recommends that users lean on its network of authorized repair shops to get any battery replacement work done. Apple said that in addition to its network of stores, there are 1,800 authorized dealers in the United States that have access to authentic Apple parts and batteries.

Owners of the recalled MacBook Pro laptops can bring them into Apple or certain authorized service centers for a free repair, Apple said on its website.

A small percentage of a huge number 

Even if a very small percentage of batteries end up having problems, that can still translate to a surprisingly large number.

Apple’s recall affected 432,000 laptops sold in the United States. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Apple received 26 reports of the battery overheating, or roughly six out of every 100,000 laptops.

But it only takes one video of a smoking laptop to go viral — as happened in late May. DJ White Panda said on Reddit that his Apple laptop “exploded and burst into flames ” in a post that got over 5,000 upvotes and was widely shared.

And the number of laptops sold pales in comparison to the number of phones out there — in Apple’s fiscal 2018, the last year for which figures are available, Apple sold over 217 million iPhones, each with an embedded lithium-ion battery, and that’s not even counting sales from Samsung and Huawei, which ship more phones.

As products like smartwatches and wireless headphones become more common, the number of lithium-ion batteries in the wild will expand even more.

It’s a real concern on flights. After all, nearly everyone on a flight has a smartphone, and a good number of people also are carrying laptops, battery packs, and other gadgets.

A fire has never spread on a flight due to a faulty battery, but batteries cause flight disruptions somewhat regularly, according to an analysis from the FAA’s Office of Security and Hazardous Materials Safety. There have been at least 265 air or airport incidents involving lithium batteries since 1991, according to the records, including six in the months of June and July.

While most smoking gadgets can be placed in “containment bags,” passenger flights as recently as May have to land early because of what the FAA sometimes euphemistically calls “a dangerous evolution of heat.”

Maluf says that the battery supply chain is currently the “wild west” but will be increasingly monitored and controlled by the device companies as batteries become bigger and more critical to the functioning of a smartphone, and features like 5G increase the amount of power devices need.

WATCH: New kinds of batteries could transform how we power up devices

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Hong Kong protesters throng streets peacefully in heavy rain

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Anti-extradition bill protesters participate in a march to demand democracy and political reforms in Hong Kong, China, August 18, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Kim Hong-Ji | Reuters

Hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters rallied peacefully in Hong Kong on Sunday, filling major thoroughfares in sometimes torrential rain in the eleventh week of what have been often violent demonstrations in the Asian financial hub.

Sunday’s turnout showed that the movement still has broad-based support despite the ugly scenes witnessed during the past week when protesters occupied the Chinese-ruled city’s airport, a move for which some activists apologized.

It was the calmest weekend protest since the latest demonstrations against perceived creeping Beijing influence in the former British colony began.

“They’ve been telling everyone we’re rioters. The march today is to show everyone we are not,” said a 23-year-old named Chris, who works in marketing and was dressed all in black, including a scarf covering his face and baseball cap.

“It does not mean we won’t keep fighting. We will do whatever is necessary to win, but today we take a break, then we reassess.”

One protester shouted at others who were jeering at police, “Today is a peaceful march! Don’t fall into the trap! The world is watching us,” prompting the group to move on.

Late in the evening, some demonstrators were urging others to go home and take a rest.

Anger over a now-suspended bill that would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China erupted in June, but the unrest has been fueled by broader worries about the erosion of freedoms guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” formula put in place after Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule in 1997, including an independent judiciary and right to protest.

Sensitive time for Beijing

The protests present one of the biggest challenges for Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012, with the ruling Communist Party preparing to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic on Oct. 1.

Protesters held aloft placards with slogans including “Free Hong Kong!” and “Democracy now!” and umbrellas to shield them from the sometimes heavy rain.

Some aimed green lasers at police and government buildings. The crowd in Victoria Park, where the rally started, included elderly people and young families, with some parents carrying toddlers.

Despite rally organizers not having permission to march, the park could not accommodate the crowd, which thronged nearby streets. Many protesters headed toward the city’s financial center, chanting for the city’s Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, to step down.

It was impossible to put an exact figure on the number of protesters. The organizers put the number at 1.7 million. Police estimates of protest turnouts are traditionally lower.

“It’s bloody hot and it’s raining. It’s a torture just to turn up, frankly. But we have to be here because we have no other choice,” said a 24-year-old student named Jonathan.

“We have to continue until the government finally shows us the respect that we deserve,” he said.

A government spokesman said the protests were generally peaceful, but they had disrupted traffic badly.

“The most important thing at present is to restore social order as soon as possible,” he said. “When everything is calm, the government will engage in a sincere dialogue with the public to fix the social rifts and rebuild social harmony.”

Aside from Lam’s resignation, demonstrators are seeking complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, a halt to descriptions of the protests as “rioting”, a waiver of charges against those arrested, an independent inquiry and resumption of political reform.

“We will still fight”

“When we were young, we didn’t think about it. But my son tells me: After 2047, what will happen to me?,” said a history teacher named Poon, referring to the year when the 50-year agreement enshrining Hong Kong’s separate system will lapse.

“I will come again and again and again. We do not know how any of this is going to end. We will still fight,” she said.

Police have come under criticism for using increasingly aggressive tactics to break up demonstrations and on Sunday some people handed out balloons resembling eyeballs, a reference to the injury suffered by a female medic who was hospitalized after being hit by a pellet round in the eye.

On Saturday, however, a demonstration in support of the government attracted what organizers said was 476,000 people, although police put the number of attendees at 108,000.

Beijing has struck an increasingly strident tone over the protests, accusing foreign countries including the United States of fomenting unrest.

Scenes of Chinese paramilitary troops training this past week at a stadium in the city of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, gave a clear warning that mainland intervention by force is possible.

Last week, protesters who occupied the terminal at Hong Kong’s airport forced the cancellation of nearly 1,000 flights and detained two men they thought were pro-government sympathizers, prompting Beijing to liken the behavior to terrorism.

“We are Hong Kongers. We are here for our future. We feel for the teenagers,” said Frances Chan, 60, a retired journalist attending Sunday’s rally.

She said only a few protesters had used violence, sparingly, and that it was brought on by pressure from authorities and police.

“Actually, we want peace and freedom,” she said.

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