China’s exports fall more than 20% in February; overall trade data come in much weaker – CNBC

China’s exports fall more than 20% in February; overall trade data come in much weaker – CNBC

A Chinese flag flies on a vessel moving past shipping containers being unloaded at a Tianjin Port Group Co. dock in Tianjin, China.

Nelson Ching | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A Chinese flag flies on a vessel moving past shipping containers being unloaded at a Tianjin Port Group Co. dock in Tianjin, China.

China on Friday reported worse than expected trade data for the month of February, customs data showed amid Beijing’s trade dispute with the U.S.

Although the 20.7 percent decline in Chinese exports for the month of February was a “big number” and the market will be “clearly disappointed,” the negative number should not come as a surprise as investors have been expecting a slowdown both globally and in China, said Sarah Lien, director and client portfolio manager at Eastspring Investments.

“There are a lot of headwinds; there’s a lot of moving parts in market,” Lien told CNBC.

Analysts have been warning of an impending slowdown in Chinese exports even though overall economic data out of the country has been robust for the last year. Asia’s largest economy continues to negotiate through a trade dispute with the U.S., its largest trading partner. Exports held up for much of 2018 as many exporters were rushing to ship their goods out before heavier tariffs hit.

According to sources who spoke to CNBC, Washington and Beijing appear to be approaching the finish line on trade negotiations that could end later this month.

Holiday distortion, but outlook still gloomy

Analysts also caution that data from China at the beginning of the year may be distorted by week-long Chinese New Year public holidays, which started in early February this year. In 2018, Chinese New Year holidays started in mid-February.

But, February’s China trade data were “downbeat, even accounting for seasonal distortions,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics.

“The upshot is that today’s downbeat data provide further evidence that global demand is cooling and remains consistent with subdued domestic demand,” Evans-Pritchard wrote in a note on Friday.

“A row back in U.S. tariffs would provide a mild boost to exports but not enough to offset the broader external headwinds. Meanwhile, with policy stimulus unlikely to put a floor beneath growth until the second half of the year, imports will remain under pressure in the near-term,” he added.

Despite concerns of a deceleration in Chinese growth, Eastspring is bullish on the world’s second-largest economy as there are “a lot of ways to play China,” Lien said.

She said the Chinese domestic market is one Eastspring is focused on.

“The domestic economy is a hugely growing and large part of the market, there’s plenty of opportunities there,” she said.

China is currently in the midst of a two-week annual parliamentary meeting, the National People’s Congress, which kicked off on Tuesday and ends next Friday (Mar. 5-15).

At the opening of that meeting this week, Premier Li Keqiang said the Chinese economy will likely slow this year, and revealed that the official economic growth target for 2019 will be 6 to 6.5 percent. That compares to an expansion of 6.6 percent in 2018 — which was already China’s slowest pace of growth since 1990.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

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Asian markets retreat as uncertainty over U.S.-China trade deal grows – MarketWatch

Asian markets retreat as uncertainty over U.S.-China trade deal grows – MarketWatch

Asian shares were mostly lower Thursday as optimism about progress in trade talks between the U.S. and China started wearing off.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225

NIK, -0.65%

  slipped 0.8% in early trading. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200

XJO, +0.29%

  edged up nearly 0.3% while South Korea’s Kospi

SEU, -0.45%

  was slightly lower. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng

HSI, -0.89%

  dipped 0.5% while the Shanghai Composite

SHCOMP, +0.14%

  was about flat.

Among individual stocks, Renesas Electronics

6723, -14.62%

  plunged in Tokyo trading after a report that the chip maker will partially halt production for two months, citing a slowdown in demand from China. Robotics maker Fanuc

6954, -2.80%

  fell as well, along with Nintendo

7974, -1.93%

 . In Hong Kong, ever-volatile Sunny Optical

2382, -5.61%

  and AAC

2018, -3.89%

 shares dropped, while real-estate stocks gained. Samsung

005930, +1.02%

  advanced in Korea, while Rio Tinto

RIO, -4.76%

  slid in Australia.

On Wall Street, health care companies led U.S. stocks broadly lower Wednesday, giving the market its third straight loss. Technology and energy stocks also bore the brunt of the selling, offsetting gains in materials and utilities companies. Several retailers also rose. Smaller companies fell more than the rest of the market.

The S&P 500

SPX, -0.65%

  dropped 18.20 points, or 0.7%, to 2,771.45. The benchmark index is now on track for its first weekly decline since January. The Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, -0.52%

  fell 133.17 points, or 0.5%, to 25,673.46. The Nasdaq composite

COMP, -0.93%

  lost 70.44 points, or 0.9%, to 7,505.92.

Disappointing economic reports, uncertainty over trade and fears of a slowdown in economic growth have been weighing on the market the past couple weeks.

“Regional stock markets will likely endure a tough start to the day following the dismal showing overnight by Wall Street. World growth and tariff fears are likely to be on investors’ lips and will cap rallies in stocks during the Asian session,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

At times, the market has also drawn optimism over the prospects that the U.S. and China will resolve their trade dispute. U.S. and Chinese officials have hinted that some kind of agreement could be finalized by the end of March, with President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping possibly meeting to formalize the deal at Trump’s private club in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

Last year, Trump imposed a series of tariffs on Chinese goods in hopes of pressuring Beijing to support more favorable terms for the United States. In June, the White House levied import taxes of 25% on $50 billion of Chinese imports. It followed in September with 10% duties on an additional $200 billion.

Asian investors were also staying cautious ahead of a European Central Bank board meeting later in the global day.

U.S. crude

CLJ9, +0.84%

  gained 15 cents to $56.37 a barrel. It slid 0.6 percent to settle at $56.22 a barrel in New York Wednesday. Brent crude

LCOK9, +0.97%

 , used to price international oils, was also higher, adding 29 cents to $66.28 a barrel in London.

The dollar

USDJPY, -0.06%

  fell to 111.66 yen from 111.86 yen Wednesday.

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China predicts weaker economic growth and warns of ‘hard struggle’ ahead – CNN

China predicts weaker economic growth and warns of ‘hard struggle’ ahead – CNN

Hong Kong (CNN Business)China is slashing business taxes as it tries to stop its economy from slowing down too sharply.

The Chinese government on Tuesday predicted economic growth of between 6% and 6.5% in 2019. That’s a decline from last year’s 6.6% rate of expansion, which was already China’s weakest performance in three decades.
“There has been a more complex and severe environment facing our country’s development this year,” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in a speech. “There are greater expected and unexpected risks and challenges, and we have to make full preparations for a hard struggle.”
Li announced the growth target, which is in line with most economists’ forecasts, at the start of this week’s annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament. He also unveiled a slew of new measures intended to bolster the economy, including cuts in taxes and other charges that he said would save businesses nearly 2 trillion yuan ($298 billion) a year.
Chinese growth has lost momentum following government efforts to crack down on risky lending, which starved many companies of the funds they needed to expand. The world’s second largest economy has also started feeling the effects of the trade war with the United States, which has resulted in new tariffs on about $250 billion of Chinese exports.
Trade tensions now appear to be cooling off. US President Donald Trump said last week that the two sides are “very, very close” to a deal and that he plans to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping for a “signing summit.”
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that the meeting could happen around March 27 and that the potential deal could involve the lowering of China’s tariffs on a range of US goods if the Trump administration removes some or all of the new tariffs it imposed on Chinese exports last year.

Global slowdown looming

That would be a clear positive for the Chinese economy, but it’s not expected to kick-start its growth engine.
Global economic growth is expected to slow this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. And China, the world’s biggest exporter, is expected to suffer from slumping demand.
“The weakness in the global economy that we anticipate over 2019-20 is due primarily to country-specific factors that we believe will cause each of the world’s major economic regions to slow,” Neil Shearing, chief economist at research firm Capital Economics, said in a note to clients Monday. “So while a deal between the US and China on trade would clearly be good news, we won’t be rushing to change our forecasts.”
Beijing’s recent efforts to stimulate the economy have included higher infrastructure spending and looser monetary policy. On Tuesday, Premier Li promised further measures, including the hefty tax cuts.
But even they may fail to make a big difference. Larry Hu, a China economist at investment bank Macquarie, said that large tax reductions in recent years had not done much to reinvigorate the economy. That’s because Beijing often steps up enforcement of tax collection at the same time.
The tax cuts will also be “largely offset by tightening elsewhere in the budget,” China analysts at Capital Economics said in a research note Tuesday.
The government’s moves to juice the economy could take months to have a real impact.
There will be a “time lag for the economic stimulus measures to take effect,” said Tai Hui, Asia-Pacific chief market strategist at investment firm JPMorgan Asset Management. Analysts predict the slowdown is unlikely to bottom out until the middle of this year.
Recent efforts to lift the economy have also prompted concerns they could worsen China’s high levels of debt, which is what happened in the government’s previous stimulus binges. The total amount of debt in the Chinese financial system is now several times the size of the entire economy, according to the Bank of International Settlements.
“They need to strike a balance between boosting economic activity and not restart another debt-fueled boom,” Hui said.

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US, China close in on trade deal that would remove sanctions on Chinese products: report – Fox News

US, China close in on trade deal that would remove sanctions on Chinese products: report – Fox News

FILE: President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands during a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (Getty)

FILE: President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping shake hands during a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (Getty)

China and the U.S. are in the final stage of completing a trade deal, with Beijing offering to lower tariffs and other restrictions on American farm, chemical, auto and other products and Washington considering removing most, if not all, sanctions levied against Chinese products since last year.

The agreement is taking shape following February’s talks in Washington, people briefed on the matter on both sides said. They cautioned that hurdles remain, and each side faces possible resistance at home that the terms are too favorable to the other side.

JOHN FUND: WILL CHINESE FIRM USE STEEL COMPANY DEAL TO STEAL SECRETS?

Despite the remaining hurdles, the talks have progressed to the extent that a formal agreement could be reached at a summit between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, probably around March 27, after Mr. Xi finishes a trip to Italy and France, individuals with knowledge of the plans said.

As part of a deal, China is pledging to help level the playing field, including speeding up the timetable for removing foreign-ownership limitations on car ventures and reducing tariffs on imported vehicles to below the current auto tariff of 15%.

Beijing would also step up purchases of U.S. goods—a tactic designed to appeal to President Trump, who campaigned on closing the bilateral trade deficit with China. One of the sweeteners would be an $18 billion natural-gas purchase from Cheniere Energy Inc., people familiar with the transaction said.

CHINA BANS 23 MILLION FROM TRAVELING AS PART OF CITIZEN REPORT CARD SYSTEM

The two sides continue to negotiate over issues involving Chinese industrial policy the U.S. argues gives Chinese domestic firms an advantage, especially state-owned enterprises. Last week, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the provisions involving protecting intellectual property total nearly 30 pages out of a working document of more than 100 pages.

U.S. and Chinese negotiators are also working on setting up a mechanism through which complaints by U.S. companies could be addressed. The plan under discussion calls for bilateral meetings of officials from both countries to adjudicate disputes. If those talks don’t produce agreement, Mr. Lighthizer has said, the U.S. could impose tariffs.

LOSS AT HANOI SUMMIT MAY BE WIN IN TRADE TALK: EXPERT

Others involved in the talks said the U.S. is pressing Beijing to agree not to retaliate—at least in some cases—if the U.S. levies sanctions. That would be a big concession for Beijing negotiators, who say they want to make sure the deal doesn’t turn out to be an unequal treaty for China of the sort imposed by Western powers in the 19th century.

Even so, China hawks in the U.S. are concerned that enforcement measures may not be strong enough and will tie down the U.S. in endless talks.

“The whole process is a fraud,” said Derek Scissors, a China expert at the American Enterprise Institute, who argues the U.S. could better enforce its will by taking unilateral actions rather than getting hooked into consultations. Former White House strategist Steve Bannon urged the administration to increase tariffs to pressure China to agree to tougher terms even if that meant lengthier negotiations and market uncertainty.

“For Trump to get the structural reforms he wants and the country needs could take the rest of 2019 to negotiate,” Mr. Bannon said.

It isn’t yet clear whether conservative U.S. media, which has Mr. Trump’s ear, will pick up the criticism.

For the Chinese, linking the Florida visit to Mr. Xi’s European trip is a way to blunt the impression that he is traveling directly to Mr. Trump’s estate to make concessions.

In recent weeks, Mr. Xi has summoned senior officials from across China to warn them about “major risks” to the world’s No. 2 economy, and his administration issued new party directives demanding “unity and concerted action.”

XI FIRMLY IN CHARGE AS CHINA TURNS TO LEGISLATIVE SEASON

A test of Mr. Xi’s authority will unfold over the next two weeks, when roughly 3,000 lawmakers gather in Beijing to review the government’s economic blueprint for the year.

One wild card in the U.S.-China negotiations is the impact of Mr. Trump’s failed summit in Vietnam with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. U.S. officials said they hope Mr. Xi learns from that episode that Mr. Trump would reject an offer he considers inadequate. But they fear Beijing might take the opposite lesson: that Mr. Trump is desperate for a win.

“His failure to get a deal in Vietnam increases the pressure on him to get a deal with the Chinese,” said Fred Bergsten, founder of the Institute for International Economics in Washington.

Both sides also recognize the need to win domestic support. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He,the lead negotiator for Mr. Xi, has been holding meetings with various ministries and agencies to build consensus within a bureaucracy that is anything but monolithic.

Mr. Lighthizer, meanwhile, plans to go to Michigan this week to talk to the United Auto Workers. He told Congress last week that he has tried to incorporate specific requests from labor, business, farmers and lawmakers in a deal.

Any deal is likely to be welcome by markets, which have risen on the news that chances of an end to the trade battle were increasing. But given the administration’s heated rhetoric on China—Mr. Lighthizer last week said he considered Beijing an existential challenge to the U.S.—the provisions are already being criticized as inadequate, especially measures to remake Chinese industrial policies.

In a move that would bolster administration’s claims of the benefits of a deal, China’s state-owned China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., known as Sinopec, would agree to buy $18 billion of liquefied natural gas from Cheniere, people familiar with the transaction said.

Cheniere would start delivering LNG to the Chinese counterpart as soon as 2023. Chinese banks could provide financing as part of the deal in the range of $3 billion to build additional facilities to meet the demand. The deal is still under negotiation and isn’t completed.

“That would be a strong signal that there will be other (contracts) to follow,” said Charlie Riedl, executive director of the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, a trade association.

China has hit U.S. LNG with 15% tariffs, as part of the trade fight, and has been buying the product mainly from Qatar, Australia and Malaysia.

Other purchases include soybeans and other agricultural goods. In recent talks, Beijing has also discussed reducing tariffs and other barriers that have limited the sale of American-made chemicals and agricultural products, such as ethanol, which now face 70% Chinese retaliatory tariffs; an ethanol byproduct, dried distillers grains, which is used to feed cattle; and polysilicon, a raw material in solar panels that was hit with 57% tariffs as part of an earlier trade fight with China.

Mr. Trump on Friday tweeted that he asked Beijing “to immediately remove all Tariffs on our agricultural products (including beef, pork, etc.)” in part, because he last week scrapped plans to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25% from 10% on March 2 as scheduled.

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There has been less progress on other issues dividing the two nations, especially China’s industrial policies and subsidies. Beijing considers that support crucial to its state-led development plan and maintaining the Communist Party’s rule.

Yang Guangpu, an associate research fellow at the Development Research Center, a think tank under China’s State Council, said Beijing is taking steps to enable state companies to operate more like commercial entities.

“China is carrying out [state-company] reforms in an orderly fashion, and won’t change the pace because of the trade tensions with the U.S.,” Mr. Yang said.

Beijing has pledged to remove “market distorting” subsidies, people tracking the talks said, but some in the administration consider that insufficient because Beijing doesn’t specifically enumerate its subsidies, at the central government and local level, and specify which ones it will eliminate.

This story was originally published by the Wall Street Journal.

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China plans to send a rover to explore Mars next year – CNN

China plans to send a rover to explore Mars next year – CNN

(CNN)China will follow up on its successful mission to the far side of the moon by sending a probe to Mars next year, one of the country’s top space scientists said Sunday.

Speaking ahead of the opening of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a major political event in Beijing, Wu Weiren, chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program, said the red planet was the natural next step.
“Over the past 60 years, we’ve made a lot of achievements, but there is still a large distance from the world space powers. We must speed up our pace,” he said. “Next year, we will launch a Mars probe, which will orbit around the Mars, land on it and probe it.”
China will also send an additional probe to the Moon, which will take samples from the surface and return to Earth. If successful, it will become only the third country to have completed such a task, after the United States and Russia.
Wu’s comments came as a Mars simulation base opened in Qinghai’s Qaidam Basin, a hyper-arid region in western China that is the highest desert on Earth and long considered one of the best parallels with the Martian surface on our own planet.
According to the state-run Global Times, the new simulation base cost $22.3 million to build and covers an area of 53,330 square meters. It can accommodate 60 people in its capsules and hundreds in tents around the base.
While the red rocky area bears a strikingly similarity to Mars, Jiao Weixin, a space science professor at Peking University, told the paper it’s “extremely difficult to simulate Mars due to its special natural features and hostile environment — low air pressure, strong radiation and frequent sandstorms, as well as vast differences in geography.”
China was late to the space race — it didn’t send its first satellite into orbit until 1970, by which time the United States had already landed an astronaut on the moon — but it has been catching up fast.
Since 2003, China has sent six crews into space and launched two space labs into Earth’s orbit. In 2013, it successfully landed a rover — Yutu 1 — on the moon, becoming only the third country to do so.
In December last year, it landed another probe and a rover, Yutu 2, on the far side of the moon, the first time this had ever been done.
Progress has been slow going since then: due to the extreme conditions on the far side of the moon, the rover often has to go into hibernation to preserve its capabilities for further exploration, Wu said on Sunday.
“Due to the moon’s rotation and revolution, the night on the moon is 14 days long. This reduces the temperature on the moon to minus 190 degrees Celsius, a temperature that all components, parts, and electronic components cannot stand,” Wu said. “So we let it sleep for a while, ensuring it can spend the night safely. A few days ago, it woke up automatically … and started to work. Currently, it is in normal condition.”
He said that the probe was currently headed northwest of its original landing site in the Von Karman Crater, adding, “we’ve gained a lot of data in the past few days, and we are going to reveal the data to the world.”

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Pompeo: US to make sure China can’t blockade South China Sea – Fox News

Pompeo: US to make sure China can’t blockade South China Sea – Fox News

  • 1eed8790-

    Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., left, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shake hands prior to their bilateral meeting in suburban Pasay city, southeast of Manila, Philippines Friday, March 1, 2019. Pompeo is in the Philippines for talks on the two countries’ relations as well as the mutual defense treaty. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

  • 2a178356-

    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gestures while answering questions during their joint news conference with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. in suburban Pasay city, southeast of Manila, Philippines Friday, March 1, 2019. Pompeo is in the country for talks on the two countries’ relations as well as the mutual defense treaty. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA, Philippines – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States is committed to ensuring the South China Sea remains open to all kinds of navigation and that “China does not pose a threat” of closing the busy sea lanes.

Pompeo assured the Philippines during his visit to Manila on Friday that America will come to its defense if its forces, aircraft or ships come under armed attack in the South China Sea. His comments were an attempt to address local concerns over the vagueness of the allies’ 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. says the Philippines feels confident, citing U.S. assurances that, “We have your back.”

Pompeo says he raised the importance of human rights, a touchy subject amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal anti-drug crackdown.

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Asian markets rise on trade-deal hopes, MSCI expansion – MarketWatch

Asian markets rise on trade-deal hopes, MSCI expansion – MarketWatch

Asian shares were mostly higher on Friday after a report suggested that the leaders of China and the U.S. could be endorsing a trade deal in weeks.

According to Bloomberg, U.S. officials are preparing a final trade deal ahead of a summit between President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, which could take place as soon as mid-March. It cited unnamed sources close to the matter.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index

NIK, +1.02%

  picked up 1.1% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng

HSI, +0.63%

  added 0.4%. The Shanghai Composite index

SHCOMP, +1.80%

  fell back from early gains, edging just 0.1% higher and Australia’s S&P ASX/200

XJO, +0.38%

  gained 0.6%.

Shares rose in Singapore

STI, +0.12%

  and Indonesia

JAKIDX, -1.26%

  but fell in Malaysia

FBMKLCI, -0.45%

 . South Korean markets were closed for a holiday.

Among individual stocks, TDK

6762, +4.25%

  and SoftBank Group

9984, +1.41%

  rose in Tokyo trading. China Life Insurance

2628, +5.56%

  and oil producer CNOOC

0883, +0.74%

  were among the gainers in Hong Kong, while AAC

2018, +0.96%

  and Sino Biopharmaceutical

2922, +0.44%

  fell. Rio Tinto

RIO, -1.29%

  and Oil Search

OSH, -1.91%

 slipped in Australia.

Traders hope that a tariffs battle waged by the world’s two largest economies would soon be called off if a deal is reached.

Trump and Xi agreed to a 90-day tariff cease-fire in December after raising import taxes on billions of dollars of each other’s goods. The U.S. was set to hit China with a fresh wave of tariffs once the agreement expires on Saturday.

While progress on issues like Washington’s unhappiness over Beijing’s technology policy has been slow, Trump said he will postpone the tariffs to give the countries more time to talk. He did not say for how long.

Buying in Asia was supported by an announcement by MSCI, a leading provider of indexes and analytics. MSCI said it will quadruple the weight of Chinese A shares in its global indexes by November. It will also add more Chinese stocks to its Emerging Markets Index, giving the country’s foreign inflows a much-needed boost.

A private survey also added to Chinese growth hopes. The Caixin manufacturing purchasing manager’s index, which measures growth in the sector, jumped to 49.9 in February, from 48.3 in the previous month. The index is on a 100-point scale, with 50 separating contraction from growth.

This comes after China’s official manufacturing PMI fell 0.3 points to 49.2 in February, a three-year low.

On Wall Street, stocks slid Thursday on news that the U.S. economy slowed at the end of last year, although the performance still beat analysts’ expectations. The country’s gross domestic product expanded at a 2.6% annual rate in the October-December period, down from 3.4% in the third quarter. The S&P 500 index

SPX, -0.28%

  lost 0.3% to 2,784.49 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, -0.27%

  fell 0.3% to 25,916.00. The Nasdaq composite

COMP, -0.29%

  shed 0.3% to 7,532.53.

U.S. crude

CLJ9, +0.75%

  added 23 cents to $57.45 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It finished 28 cents higher at $57.22 a barrel overnight. Brent crude

LCOJ9, -0.56%

 , used to price international oils, gained 31 cents to $66.62 a barrel. The contract gave up 27 cents to $66.31 in London.

The dollar

USDJPY, +0.45%

  strengthened to 111.71 yen from 111.39 yen on Thursday.

Providing critical information for the U.S. trading day. Subscribe to MarketWatch’s free Need to Know newsletter. Sign up here.

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US and China trade war: CSI 300 jumps after Trump delays tariff hike – CNN

US and China trade war: CSI 300 jumps after Trump delays tariff hike – CNN

Hong Kong (CNN Business)US President Donald Trump has given Chinese stocks a boost by announcing that he’ll delay a major tariff hike to give the two countries more time to reach a trade deal.

Stocks in Shanghai surged more than 5% on Monday following Trump’s remarks on Twitter in which he said trade negotiators had made “substantial progress.” Trump said he will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping “to conclude an agreement” if the talks continue to advance.
Xi also contributed to the sharp rise with comments over the weekend calling for the development of China’s financial industry, which investors interpreted as encouragement to move money into the sector.
Chinese shares took a beating last year from fears about the country’s economic slowdown and its trade war with the United States. They have rallied since the start of 2019, in part because of rising hopes of an end to the damaging hostilities between the world’s top two economies.
“I can almost hear the collective sigh of relief in the region this morning,” Jeffrey Halley, an analyst at online broker Oanda in Singapore, said in a market commentary. He noted that other Asian economies are “so closely tied to the fortunes of China now that ripples are felt far and wide.”
Stock indexes in Tokyo (N225) and Hong Kong (HSI) posted modest gains of less than 1%. But they were dwarfed by the jump in mainland China.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) leaped 5.6% in afternoon trading, while the closely watched CSI 300, which tracks stocks in Shanghai and Shenzhen, soared 6%. That lifted it into bull market territory, which is commonly defined as a rise of at least 20% from a market’s recent low.
Both the main Chinese indexes plunged into bear markets last year, a drop of at least 20% from a recent high.
Hao Hong, head of strategy at brokerage BOCOM International, said Monday’s big gains were helped by Xi’s comments about the Chinese financial industry.
In remarks at a top leadership meeting, which were reported by state media over the weekend, Xi said China should strengthen the financial sector’s ability to serve the real economy. That includes “the need to establish a standard, transparent, open, dynamic and resilient capital market,” according to a report by the official news agency, Xinhua.
Despite the broad nature of Xi’s comments, Chinese investors took them as a cue to pour money into the country’s stock markets, according to Hong.
Financial stocks led the gains in Shanghai on Monday. Shares in several major brokerages, including Citic Securities and China Galaxy Securities, spiked 10%.

Underlying tension to persist

Analysts warned that despite the encouraging signs from the trade talks, plenty of risks remain.
The United States and China started imposing heavy new tariffs on huge swathes of each other’s exports in July, alarming investors and disrupting companies’ operations around the world.
The US government was due to hike tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% on March 2 if the two sides were unable to reach a deal before then.
“The tariff suspension and increased likelihood of a more lasting agreement should be a positive for international trade and business in both countries, as well as the global economy more generally,” Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at research firm Oxford Economics, said in a note to clients on Monday.
Trump didn’t specify what the new deadline for raising tariffs would be or when he is likely to meet Xi. He said the meeting would take place at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Kuijs and other analysts cautioned that investors shouldn’t get carried away, pointing to the challenges Beijing and Washington face in reaching agreement on complex issues including China’s industrial policy, intellectual property protection and the transfer of technology.
“This is clearly not the end of the negotiations, let alone the underlying tension between the two countries,” Kuijs said.
“We don’t expect the existing tariffs to be reduced any time soon,” he added. “It is also not clear whether there will be any significant reduction in other US restrictions in the area of technology or a change in its stance on Huawei.”
The US government is trying to persuade allies to shut Chinese tech company Huawei out of super-fast 5G wireless networks, citing security concerns. US prosecutors have also indicted Huawei on criminal charges, including theft of trade secrets and sanctions evasion. The company denies all the allegations against it.

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Officials Play Down Appearance of Rift Between Trump and Lighthizer on Trade – Wall Street Journal

Officials Play Down Appearance of Rift Between Trump and Lighthizer on Trade – Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON—U.S. trade officials are looking to knock down speculation of a split on China policy between President Trump and his lead trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, following a testy exchange between the two in the Oval Office Friday.

The incident occurred in front of reporters Friday afternoon, as the president and cabinet officials met with China’s top trade envoy, Vice Premier Liu He, to announce that talks aimed at settling the U.S.-China trade dispute were making progress and would be extended through the weekend.

Mr. Trump appeared to upbraid Mr. Lighthizer, who said he was negotiating memorandums of understanding with China. The MOUs cover a half-dozen subjects including agriculture, currency policy and technology transfer.

“An MOU is a contract,” Mr. Lighthizer said, turning to reporters. “A memorandum of understanding is a binding agreement between two people. And that’s what we’re talking about.”

That provoked what many saw as a rebuke from the president.

“The real question is, Bob, so we do a memorandum of understanding, which, frankly, you could do or not do. I don’t care if you do it or not. To me, it doesn’t mean very much. But if you do a memorandum of—how long will it take to put that into a final, binding contract?” the president said.

Mr. Lighthizer responded quickly that he would call any agreement with China a “trade agreement,” not an MOU. “We’ll never use the term again,” Mr. Lighthizer said.

The dispute was less significant than it appeared, according to people familiar with the discussions, and mainly involved a disagreement over terminology.

Mr. Trump was trying to make clear that he wasn’t interested in a short-term agreement; rather, he wanted a longer-term deal, these people said. Mr. Trump’s understanding of an MOU comes from his experience in real estate, where an MOU is preliminary to a deal, they said.

Mr. Lighthizer, said the individuals, was using MOU as a trade-deal term, meant to indicate that a deal wouldn’t require Congressional approval. One of the individuals said that the MOUs in draft form are very detailed and could total 100 pages.

U.S. negotiators are cognizant of the need to present a unified front as trade talks reach a crucial stage. Mr. Lighthizer, a skilled bureaucratic infighter, also is aware of the need to keep on the good side of his volatile boss. At various times, Mr. Trump has sidelined Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in China policy.

“The talks with China are still ongoing,” said a senior official in the USTR’s office. “Thanks to President Trump’s strong leadership, we are making strong progress on substantive, structural issues.”

If the two sides don’t reach a deal by March 1, tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods are set to rise to 25% from 10% at 12:01 a.m., the following day. Mr. Trump indicated on Friday that he is inclined to extend the deadline as long as talks are progressing, with an eye toward closing a deal in a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida later in March.

Some U.S. officials are worried that Mr. Trump is so focused on a deal that could help boost markets that he wouldn’t fight hard for so-called structural issues, including Beijing’s pressure on U.S. companies to transfer technology to their Chinese partners, illicit subsidies for domestic firms and changes in regulations and laws needed to enforce intellectual property.

In recent remarks, Mr. Trump has focused far more on potential Chinese purchases of soybeans and other commodities than on structural issues.

Until last fall, Mr. Trump had regularly sided with Mr. Lighthizer over Mr. Mnuchin in deciding to impose tariffs on China and to focus on structural issues. But when the stock market swooned amid trade jitters late last year, Mr. Trump stepped up pressure on his deputies to reach an accord with Beijing.

Negotiations continued Saturday and are expected to wrap up on Sunday. One individual familiar with the discussions said that USTR continues to press Chinese counterparts for important structural changes.

That includes getting Beijing to allow U.S. cloud-computing companies to operate in China on the same terms as Chinese ones. Now, U.S. cloud-computing companies must sell their technology to Chinese firms, which pay licensing fees to the U.S. companies. U.S. cloud-computing companies, including

Amazon.com
Inc.

and

Microsoft
Corp.

can’t offer their own services in China.

Beijing has long considered cloud-computing issues off limits, arguing they were issues of national security. A senior administration official said a few weeks ago that China had agreed to add more subjects to the negotiations.

Write to Bob Davis at bob.davis@wsj.com

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China Trade War Update: Resistance Is Futile – Forbes

China Trade War Update: Resistance Is Futile – Forbes

Made in China products are more expensive, and U.S. companies are still paying the price. Markets should get used to higher tariffs, and pick winners and losers as the low-grade trade war has no end in sight. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File) photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

China will survive and grow and become an Asian powerhouse. So don’t worry corporate America and global money managers: China is not going to roll over. But that’s the problem. China is not going to roll over and give up providing certain subsidies to state-owned firms, large and small. China is not going to make its new intellectual property laws retroactive so American companies can litigate day in and day out for past harms.

Why does Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin want guarantees from China that it wont purposefully weaken the yuan? Because tariffs are going up next month, and Mnuchin doesn’t want them to be negated by China widening its forex trading ban and bringing the yuan to 7 and change against the dollar. Or weaker.

On the China trade war, resistance is futile.

If there is one big-picture campaign item that President Trump might actually succeed at fully it is passing on the China tariffs to the next government. Only a laissez-faire, free-market Democrat would take them down should Trump not get reelected in 2020.

The bottom line is that the trade dispute—as China likes to call it—is evolving into a bipartisan platform that involves key Democratic Party members like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Wall Street will have to get used to a low-intensity trade war and pick their winners and losers accordingly. This will all go down in the second and third quarter as Trump is expected to extend the 90-day trade truce out another 60 days. There is a chance that tariffs will remain in place and not rise until after extension, barring some sort of “Come to Jesus” moment in the Trump administration.

A Chinese man reacts near a board showing the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index at a brokerage in Beijing on the day Trump was elected. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Round “Umpteen” Is A Winner!

The market believes that a trade truce extension is likely to keep tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods steady at 10% instead of doubling.

China’s Vice Premier Liu He leads a delegation that kicks off the eighth round of trade talks in Washington on Thursday.

“We believe the China–U.S. trade talks, covering nine areas, are indeed likely to make progress, convincing Trump it is worth extending the tariff truce if necessary,” says X. D. Chen, chief China economist for BNP Paribas. “Closing the gap should be up to President Trump,” he says. “China might have revealed its bottom line.” Chen thinks some sort of deal is likely in March, which is now consensus on Wall Street.

See: Irrational Exuberance On China Trade Deal — Forbes

China Is Losing The Trade War In Nearly Every Way — Forbes

Best Frenemies 4-Eva. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg photo credit: © 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP© 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP

Why U.S. And China Can’t Make A Deal — Bloomberg

There are nine different target areas that are unlikely to be agreed upon this week.

These include China promising to buy more U.S. goods. Both countries are aiming to cut 20% of existing trade imbalance every year for the next five years until the trade imbalance is less than 20% of its level in 2018.

This could be pie-in-the-sky. The U.S. is a larger economy and spends more than China. If China decides to buy more widgets from the U.S. instead of other partner nations, this could bring up disputes by disgruntled third parties in the World Trade Organization, claiming they are giving each other favored nation status.

Moreover, China is relying less on its state-controlled enterprises. Its GDP is mostly thanks to the private sector. Beijing would have to demand they buy American.

The U.S. wants China to do away with tech transfers in joint venture deals. China says they don’t force anyone to give up their technology to have a JV with a mainland company, but the key word here is “force.” No one is “forced” to do it any more than one is forced to pay interest on their credit card. It is an understandable part of the transaction and of the relationship, usually, between a foreigner and a domestic company. You share know-how with the Chinese.

The U.S. is unlikely to be fully satisfied with China’s IP laws, but China has improved them, according to the majority of survey respondents in an American Chamber of Commerce poll conducted last year. The U.S. will have to live with them.

Randy Garutti, chief executive officer of Shake Shack Inc., center left, poses with executives and colleagues in front of a Shake Shack restaurant in Shanghai, China, on January 24, 2019. Shake Shack opened the burger chain’s first store in mainland China. American companies want to be there, despite the challenges. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg photo credit: © 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP© 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP

Gutting subsidies to state-owned enterprises is hard. Many of these firms are provincially owned and operated. Xi Jinping has been cracking down on them in terms of hurting their main sources of funding in the shadow banking system. But Xi is unlikely to force state firms not to subsidize production, especially if the end result in the removal of those subsidies is unemployment.

If the U.S. demands this, China cannot deliver. If China wants to keep that system in place, as part of its economic DNA, as Chen from BNP Paribas describes it, then they will have to live with 25% tariffs.

Internet-related companies and filmed entertainment might also be a market Washington will want Beijing to open further. Beijing has already opened the financial services market, a super-sexy market for U.S. investment banks who do not have to partner with local firms to set up shop as broker-dealers and wealth managers, among other things.

Tomorrow’s talks are likely to focus on how to implement any trade agreement and write those details into a legal document.

Trump said he has no plans to meet Xi during his trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, for his second summit with North Korean President Kim Jong Un next week.

Even if the trade talks fulfill the market’s wishes this week, details won’t be fully known until Trump and Xi meet at some point in March.

Even Chen from BNP, who thinks the trade war is running on fumes, thinks a 60-day extension is not necessarily good news for the market.

“We don’t think Trump could gain any more from China during an extended truce, and China might take the advantage of any changes in the U.S. or in the world to bargain back,” he says.“That could risk any deal blowing up—and the world continues to suffer uncertainty.”

If Washington insists on state company reforms, leading to oversupply in world markets, they might be disappointed. Whether that’s a deal-breaker remains to be seen. If it is, 25% tariffs are a sure thing sooner rather than later.

“>

Made in China products are more expensive, and U.S. companies are still paying the price. Markets should get used to higher tariffs, and pick winners and losers as the low-grade trade war has no end in sight. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File) photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

China will survive and grow and become an Asian powerhouse. So don’t worry corporate America and global money managers: China is not going to roll over. But that’s the problem. China is not going to roll over and give up providing certain subsidies to state-owned firms, large and small. China is not going to make its new intellectual property laws retroactive so American companies can litigate day in and day out for past harms.

Why does Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin want guarantees from China that it wont purposefully weaken the yuan? Because tariffs are going up next month, and Mnuchin doesn’t want them to be negated by China widening its forex trading ban and bringing the yuan to 7 and change against the dollar. Or weaker.

On the China trade war, resistance is futile.

If there is one big-picture campaign item that President Trump might actually succeed at fully it is passing on the China tariffs to the next government. Only a laissez-faire, free-market Democrat would take them down should Trump not get reelected in 2020.

The bottom line is that the trade dispute—as China likes to call it—is evolving into a bipartisan platform that involves key Democratic Party members like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Wall Street will have to get used to a low-intensity trade war and pick their winners and losers accordingly. This will all go down in the second and third quarter as Trump is expected to extend the 90-day trade truce out another 60 days. There is a chance that tariffs will remain in place and not rise until after extension, barring some sort of “Come to Jesus” moment in the Trump administration.

A Chinese man reacts near a board showing the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index at a brokerage in Beijing on the day Trump was elected. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Round “Umpteen” Is A Winner!

The market believes that a trade truce extension is likely to keep tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods steady at 10% instead of doubling.

China’s Vice Premier Liu He leads a delegation that kicks off the eighth round of trade talks in Washington on Thursday.

“We believe the China–U.S. trade talks, covering nine areas, are indeed likely to make progress, convincing Trump it is worth extending the tariff truce if necessary,” says X. D. Chen, chief China economist for BNP Paribas. “Closing the gap should be up to President Trump,” he says. “China might have revealed its bottom line.” Chen thinks some sort of deal is likely in March, which is now consensus on Wall Street.

See: Irrational Exuberance On China Trade Deal — Forbes

China Is Losing The Trade War In Nearly Every Way — Forbes

Best Frenemies 4-Eva. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg photo credit: © 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP© 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP

Why U.S. And China Can’t Make A Deal — Bloomberg

There are nine different target areas that are unlikely to be agreed upon this week.

These include China promising to buy more U.S. goods. Both countries are aiming to cut 20% of existing trade imbalance every year for the next five years until the trade imbalance is less than 20% of its level in 2018.

This could be pie-in-the-sky. The U.S. is a larger economy and spends more than China. If China decides to buy more widgets from the U.S. instead of other partner nations, this could bring up disputes by disgruntled third parties in the World Trade Organization, claiming they are giving each other favored nation status.

Moreover, China is relying less on its state-controlled enterprises. Its GDP is mostly thanks to the private sector. Beijing would have to demand they buy American.

The U.S. wants China to do away with tech transfers in joint venture deals. China says they don’t force anyone to give up their technology to have a JV with a mainland company, but the key word here is “force.” No one is “forced” to do it any more than one is forced to pay interest on their credit card. It is an understandable part of the transaction and of the relationship, usually, between a foreigner and a domestic company. You share know-how with the Chinese.

The U.S. is unlikely to be fully satisfied with China’s IP laws, but China has improved them, according to the majority of survey respondents in an American Chamber of Commerce poll conducted last year. The U.S. will have to live with them.

Randy Garutti, chief executive officer of Shake Shack Inc., center left, poses with executives and colleagues in front of a Shake Shack restaurant in Shanghai, China, on January 24, 2019. Shake Shack opened the burger chain’s first store in mainland China. American companies want to be there, despite the challenges. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg photo credit: © 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP© 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP

Gutting subsidies to state-owned enterprises is hard. Many of these firms are provincially owned and operated. Xi Jinping has been cracking down on them in terms of hurting their main sources of funding in the shadow banking system. But Xi is unlikely to force state firms not to subsidize production, especially if the end result in the removal of those subsidies is unemployment.

If the U.S. demands this, China cannot deliver. If China wants to keep that system in place, as part of its economic DNA, as Chen from BNP Paribas describes it, then they will have to live with 25% tariffs.

Internet-related companies and filmed entertainment might also be a market Washington will want Beijing to open further. Beijing has already opened the financial services market, a super-sexy market for U.S. investment banks who do not have to partner with local firms to set up shop as broker-dealers and wealth managers, among other things.

Tomorrow’s talks are likely to focus on how to implement any trade agreement and write those details into a legal document.

Trump said he has no plans to meet Xi during his trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, for his second summit with North Korean President Kim Jong Un next week.

Even if the trade talks fulfill the market’s wishes this week, details won’t be fully known until Trump and Xi meet at some point in March.

Even Chen from BNP, who thinks the trade war is running on fumes, thinks a 60-day extension is not necessarily good news for the market.

“We don’t think Trump could gain any more from China during an extended truce, and China might take the advantage of any changes in the U.S. or in the world to bargain back,” he says.“That could risk any deal blowing up—and the world continues to suffer uncertainty.”

If Washington insists on state company reforms, leading to oversupply in world markets, they might be disappointed. Whether that’s a deal-breaker remains to be seen. If it is, 25% tariffs are a sure thing sooner rather than later.

Read More