Markets Jittery Over US-China Trade Fight

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Stock markets recoiled on Wednesday as China retaliated in an escalating trade war with the United States, leaving investors reluctant to take positions in anything but the safest of assets.

Jim Boyce, a Beijing-based wine consultant who writes the blog Grapewallofchina, said while there were concerns that the duties would make US wine less cost-competitive, the greater worry was over the image the trade war would generate for USA goods. In an interview on CNBC on Wednesday, he said China's reaction "shouldn't surprise anyone".

American Soybean Assn. president and Iowa farmer John Heisdorffer said that drop in future prices is already costing US soybean producers. "This has been telegraphed for days and weeks", Ross said.

China hit back quickly on Wednesday against the Trump administration's plans to impose tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods, retaliating with a list of similar duties on key U.S. imports including soybeans, planes, cars, beef and chemicals.

The US move "severely infringed on the legitimate rights and interests that China enjoys in accordance with the WTO rules, and threatened China's economic interests and security", the MOC said.

"In the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017, we saw an uptick in offensive operations against USA targets by China", said Adam Meyers, vice president of intelligence at CrowdStrike.

The speed with which the trade struggle between Washington and Beijing is ratcheting up led to a sharp selloff in global stock markets and commodities.

Global shares fell sharply Wednesday after China announced a list of us products that might be subject to a 25 percent tariff, in an escalation of trade tensions between the world's two biggest economies.

"If protecting U.S. intellectual property is the ultimate goal here, I'm not sure how destroying shareholder wealth, damaging CEO confidence and making the American farmer the main sacrificial lamb here after [six] years of pain on the farm is going to get us there", Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, wrote in a note Wednesday.

As for Wednesday's stock market opening, the Dow Jones industrial average fell by 480 points soon after the opening bell, thereby wiping two percent off the benchmark index.

"I think that if they see the US potentially slapping trade restrictions on China, then they're going to see that as probably opening up the flood gates again", said Meyers. The U.S.is targeting high-tech sectors that Beijing sees as the future for its economy. It was unclear whether the latest tariff hike was a direct response to that. That's the thing about a trade fight: both sides gets hurt.

The trade deficit with China rose to $337 billion in 2017, but Trump likes to ignore the dominant USA services sector and focus only on the deficit in goods alone, which was $375 billion past year although he uses a higher figure.

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Still, charges rose at only a modest pace, to suggest that manufacturers' margins remained under pressure. As has been the case since last November, Indian manufacturers raised their purchasing activity.

Beijing's proposed targets strike at the core of commercial relations between the two countries, and at some of the most politically sensitive goods in core Trump constituencies.

Wednesday's Chinese tariff hike targeted goods including soybeans, the biggest US export to China, and aircraft.

Paul Schatz, president of Heritage Capital, a money-management firm in Woodbridge, Conn., says a strong finish for the day for stocks would be viewed positively.

Both sides have calibrated their current actions around the figure of $50 billion worth of imports. In March, representatives from the Iowa Soybean Association visited him in China to plead their case, according to a Chinese report.

The tariffs are meant to meant to penalize the United States for its recently-announced taxes on Chinese steel and aluminum. "We believe both countries have the ability and wisdom to address the problem", Zhu said.

"If history is any indication, these proposed tariffs will not work and will be entirely counterproductive", said Dean Garfield, chief executive officer of the Information Technology Industry Council. The agency said it chose products to minimize the impact on the US economy and consumers.

Large technology companies also struggled.

"We will prepare equal measures for USA products with the same scale" according to regulations in Chinese trade law, a ministry spokesman said in comments carried by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Some analysts downplayed the back-and-forth as negotiating tactics.

It said a 25 percent tariff would be imposed and the date the charges will take effect would be announced later.

US authorities say Beijing denies foreign companies the right to block use of technology by a Chinese entity once a licensing period ends.

Chinese cyber activity has long posed a challenge for the USA government, which has sought to crack down on Chinese efforts to break into US corporate networks for commercial gain.

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