Trade wars burden in China data pull markets down

Donald Trump's trade war hits Chinese exports

China December exports unexpectedly drop

Exports to the United States in 2018 rose 11.3 percent to $478.4 billion despite Trump's punitive duties in a fight over Chinese technology ambitions, customs data showed Monday. Imports also saw a shock drop, falling 7.6 per cent in their biggest decline since July 2016.

Chinese markets lost about 1%, S&P 500 futures are down by 0.9% on Monday morning on fears that trade disputes between China and the United States will cause a serious slowdown in key economic regions.

Traditionally China imports vast quantities of American soybeans in the second half of the year - but the buying fell off after China hit U.S. soybeans with a 25 per cent retaliatory import tariff this summer.

December's imports were only slightly above the 5.38 million tonnes imported in November and below expected volumes of around 6.5 million tonnes, said Monica Tu, analyst at Shanghai JC Intelligence Co Ltd.

Given Trump's frustration with China's huge trade gap with the United States, the latest data might fuel demands by hardliners in Washington to punish Beijing.

"Export growth has slowed down dramatically", noted Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

White House sought military options against Iran past year
Concerning statements include past comments made attacking the US' Iran strategy and his suggestion that the US might preemptively attack North Korea.

The two countries have hit each other with tit-for-tariffs on goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

However, in a sign that the White House's measures are having an impact, China's exports to the USA sank in december previous year.

US President Donald Trump on Monday said it's good to have relationship with countries like Russia, China, Japan and India as he expressed hope to reach a trade deal with Beijing.

"In anticipation of tariffs, US firms increased their orders from China to avoid the higher costs of imports", Villanova's Casario said.

But, soybean imports from the US plunged to zero in November. The cost of producing goods in China's factories slowed sharply in December, a sign demand remains weak, while consumer inflation also flagged. But China's 25 percent tariff on USA cargoes remains in place.

"If pressure on the economy is still relatively large in the first half, a cut every quarter should be highly likely", said Xu Gao, chief economist at Everbright Securities. For all of 2018, soybean, the second largest imports from the U.S., fell for the first time since 2011. China's global trade surplus for 2018 was $351.76bn, the lowest since 2013, despite the fact that export growth was the highest since 2011, according to Reuters.

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