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Dec. 3, 2019, 9:59 a.m. EST

Trump’s comment on waiting until after election for China trade deal could reflect bluster — or difficult state of talks

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By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch


Associated Press
U.S. President Donald Trump meets NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg at Winfield House in London, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday made some incendiary comments about the prospect of reaching a deal with China. Whether they reflect the U.S. stance or just Trump’s penchant for trying to negotiate a better outcome, remains to be seen.

Here’s what Trump said at a London news conference: “A China trade deal is dependent on one thing — do I want to make it.”

Later, he added: “I have no deadline, no. In some ways, I think it’s better to wait until after the election if you want to know the truth. But I’m not going to say that, I just think that.”

Tariffs on Chinese goods are set to increase on Dec. 15 if no action is taken by the White House to delay or remove them.

“If the president does not pivot on his comments quickly, it will be the coup de grâce for hopes of a settlement of the U.S.-China trade war any time soon,” said Carl Weinberg, chief economist of High Frequency Economics. “For U.S.-focused investors, the president’s remarks raise expectations that the proposed 15% increase in tariffs on $160 billion worth of mostly-consumer-oriented goods from China will indeed be implemented on December 15.”

Stock futures turned lower on the Trump remarks, with Dow industrials futures /zigman2/quotes/210407078/delayed YM00 +1.60%   losing over 100 points.

That actually underestimated the reaction when U.S. stocks opened, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +1.44%   fell over 300 points in early action, just a day after shedding 268 points.

/zigman2/quotes/210407078/delayed
US : U.S.: CBOT
$ 25,980.00
+409.00 +1.60%
Volume: 229,539
July 10, 2020 3:59p
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/zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime
US : Dow Jones Global
26,075.30
+369.21 +1.44%
Volume: 337.36M
July 10, 2020 5:09p
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Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch markets editor for Europe. Follow him on Twitter: @MKTWgoldstein.

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