Why Trump may back down on China tariff deadline
It’s getting harder and harder to find a financial market whose direction isn’t at least partially hinging on whether U.S. and China negotiators put together phase one of a trade deal.
The ebbs and flows of the U.S. bellwether S&P 500 Index — which hit a record last month as investors sensed a partial pact was in the offing — grab most of the headlines. And for good reason: Institutional investors and moms-and-pops alike have big swaths of cash parked there. Soybean futures are another regular mover.
But wild swings in asset prices attributed to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric are also creating headaches for fund managers from India to Brazil. Just yesterday, the Philippine peso gained on trade truce hopes. The Russian ruble, of all things, was catching a bid today.
Meanwhile, the world’s biggest debt market — which helps set prices in fixed-income securities across the globe — can’t find its footing in the wake of the waffling outlook.
Several days this week Treasury yields rose in Asia and in early European trading as the protectionist mood seemed to mellow, only to spiral later in the U.S. day amid re-emerging tariff concerns. Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields hit a two-week high on Monday at 1.86 per cent. They then swooned Tuesday amid haven demand after Trump said he’s willing to wait a year for before striking an agreement with China.
The ups and downs in the Chinese yuan — which weakened through the infamous ‘7 per dollar’ level in August — are mostly all tied to the trade war. When things look rosy the yuan strengthens, as some suspect that China could weaken its currency as a weapon to combat the weight of U.S. tariffs.
The list of assets whose prices are affected the showdown between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping goes on and on. Here are a few highlights:
• Emerging market stocks (with the trade rift a headwind to global growth)
• India’s rupee is the worst performer among emerging Asian currencies in the second half (India’s own economic woes are exacerbated by trade war)
• The Japanese yen — a favored haven currency — is on course for its biggest weekly gain since early October
• Sovereign debt yields in Germany and euro area overall
• Oil prices, with the ongoing impasse having imperiled demand for petroleum-based fuels
Mohamed El-Erian, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist and the chief economic adviser at Allianz, put it this way Wednesday on CNBC: “This is once again a single-issue market — trade, trade, trade. It's all about trade.”
Charting the Trade War
U.S. trade with China extended its slide in October as goods imports from the nation fell to a fresh three-year low amid prolonged talks between the two largest economies on a trade deal.