By Robert Schroeder, MarketWatch
President Donald Trump on Tuesday said a U.S.-China trade deal “could happen soon,” describing a phase-one agreement as “close” in a speech to the Economic Club of New York.
In the closely watched speech, Trump called Beijing “dying to make a deal” with the U.S., but gave scant details on phasing out tariffs or setting a meeting to sign any deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Trump also took aim at the Federal Reserve and touted U.S. job creation in the midday speech, saying that his administration had “exceeded expectations” on the U.S. economy by creating nearly 7 million new jobs. The number is closer to 6.5 million since the beginning of the Trump administration, according to the government.
One day ahead of a Capitol Hill testimony by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, Trump repeated his charge that the central bank has cut interest rates too slowly.
Citing stock-market records, Trump claimed, “if we had a Fed that worked with us, we could have added another 25% to those numbers.”
Equities and other assets have hung on statements from Trump and China about the possibility of a deal, with the president last week disputing Beijing’s assertion that the U.S. and China had agreed to roll back tariffs as part of an interim trade pact.
U.S. stock-indexes /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.36% /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.45% /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.52% all held on to modest gains in Tuesday action as Trump spoke.
The U.S. and China have placed tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of each others’ goods in a trade fight that has roiled global markets. The next round of U.S. levies on Chinese products is scheduled to go into effect on Dec.15., and covers $156 billion of goods including toys and computers.
Trump warned Tuesday, “if we don’t make a deal, we’re going to substantially raise the tariffs.”
The tariff fight has come as officials from the two sides have been negotiating the so-called phase one, or partial, trade agreement. Under that phase, the U.S. aims to have China buy more American agricultural products; beef up intellectual property protections for foreign companies in China; and open China’s financial-services market.