Thursday 17 January 2019

Trump eyes higher tariffs on China as trade war grows

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)

Sarah Ponczek and Olivia Schaber

US President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on every single Chinese import into America as the world's two largest economies exchanged the first blows in a trade war that isn't set to end any time soon.

After months of rhetoric, a 25pc levy on $34bn (€29bn) worth of Chinese goods entering the US took effect just after midnight Washington time yesterday with farming ploughs and airplane parts among the products targeted. China hit back immediately via duties on US shipments including soybeans and cars.

Neither side shows any signs of backing down. Mr Trump is already eyeing another $16bn worth of Chinese goods, and he indicated to reporters on Thursday that the final tariff total could exceed $500bn, almost the same amount that the US imported in 2017.

China's Commerce Ministry accused the US of "bullying" and igniting "the largest trade war in economic history".

However, US stocks moved higher in light afternoon trading yesterday amid strength in biotechnology shares following reports that drugmaker Biogen's Alzheimer's drug showed positive results in a large clinical trial.

The dollar extended losses and Treasuries climbed as investors assessed a mixed jobs report and the impact of the escalating trade rift.

The S&P 500 Index rose following the employment report, which showed US hiring topped forecasts in June, while the Nasdaq benchmarks surged on gains in biotech, software and tech hardware.

Volume was low, with trading in S&P 500 stocks almost 25pc below normal for this time.

Wage gains slowed unexpectedly, sending the dollar and Treasury yields lower as traders assessed the implications on Federal Reserve policy. In Europe, stocks drifted higher, with defensive shares such as utilities among the gainers, underscoring the cautious mood.

Deutsche Bank rose on speculation of takeover bids.

In Dublin, the Irish index of Irish shares rose less than half of 1pc to finish at 7001.49.


Irish Independent

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