Markets trade

China Deal All But Done. Trump Says ‘VERY’ Close, Dow Jones Tips Tariff Rollbacks

"They want it and so do we!"

Donald Trump noticed that jobless claims spiked 49,000 to a two-year high in the week ended December 7, so he opened his Twitter app and delivered an upbeat assessment on the trade talks.

We jest. Well, not entirely. Claims did spike to 252,000 (see the chart) on seasonal noise, but that’s not why Trump tweeted about the Sino-US trade discussions on Thursday, just minutes after the opening bell on Wall Street.

Rather, Trump appears to have noticed that his former partner in populism, Steve Bannon, was on CNBC talking up the possibility that the November jobs report might just prompt the White House to abandon the talks with Beijing on the way to imposing the tariffs planned for Sunday.

And it wasn’t just Bannon. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue – who earlier this week stoked optimism when he said that in his view, the new levies would not go into effect – told Fox Business that China is not willing to commit contractually to buying $50 billion in farm products. Rather, Beijing is only willing to make that promise behind closed doors.

That’s not exactly a surprise. After all, Trump’s “target range” for purchases is far-fetched in the extreme, something we’ve been over in these pages on too many occasions to count (see chart below and also “As Trade Talks Hang By A Thread, A Soybean Problem Emerges“).

And yet, between Bannon and Perdue, a pall of sorts was cast over nervous markets, as the clock ticks down under four days before a decision needs to be made about the planned December 15 levies.

Rather than chance another selloff, Trump tweeted this five minutes after the opening bell:

Shortly thereafter, Dow Jones broke the news. US officials have offered to cut existing tariffs by up to 50% on $360 billion worth of Chinese imports.

Washington has also offered to cancel the next round of tariffs scheduled for Sunday.

As part of the interim agreement, the US would stipulate that if China does not carry out its pledges, tariffs would be reimposed at the original levels.

Stocks are obviously on the highs. Treasury yields are surging and the yuan is extending gains.

It appears as though Trump realizes the inherent peril of escalating things further at a time when the Fed, although dovish, clearly isn’t inclined to provide any more overt cover.


Aside: As for the jump in claims, it’s not an issue. “December and January are the biggest months for labor market turnover for the year so consequently there is excessive volatility in the claims”, Jefferies said. “Looking ahead, we expect that claims will eventually return to the recent average. Bottom line is that there is nothing to see here”.

6 comments on “China Deal All But Done. Trump Says ‘VERY’ Close, Dow Jones Tips Tariff Rollbacks

  1. They say Trump wanted to get the China Tariff problem resolved so he has time to rip into Greta Thunberg being named “Person of the Year”. He was quite upset that he was overlooked AGAIN. Then someone pointed out that the award was for PERSON of the year … not A”hole of the year. That seemed to calm him down.

  2. Stephen in Canada says:

    Now, if somehow he does manage to get himself convicted on the impeachment charges – he can look forward to being at least a good candidate for next year’s award… We should be so lucky!

  3. Lance Manly says:

    Art of the cave.

  4. f_society says:

    I just wonder what is so important, more important than getting the China trade deal accomplished, that he has to wait until 2:30pm to meet with his trade advisors? Maybe too busy trolling Time Magazine’s person of the year?

  5. George says:

    What else is as obvious as the predictability of all this trade deal stuff ???? Quick answer……It is the absurdity of it all and how it keeps a lot of us from being able to capitalize on such an opportunity….Feet of Clay !!

  6. Anonymous says:

    What’s the betting that the “agreement in principal” means that the Chinese will buy a bit more agricultural products than they did before, which Trump can claim as a win? However, the main problems with China are not the trade gap but it’s IP theft and restriction of foreign companies participation in the Chinese
    economy.

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