Stocks Slammed After Lighthizer Denies China Tariffs On Hold

Update: and there it is: LIGHTHIZER'S OFFICE DENIES REPORT CHINA TARIFFS ON HOLD: CNBC

“Ambassador Lighthizer has made no representations to industry executives that future Section 301 tariffs are on hold," CNBC reported, citing a statement from U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer’s office.

According to the USTR statement, the plan for tariffs outlined in September “has not changed at all” adding that "Any reports to the contrary are incorrect."

To anyone trading this, good luck although that should really be in binary.

* * *

Easy come, easy go.

As we reported earlier, shortly after noon ET stocks surged after the FT reported the USTR’s Lighthizer has told some industry executives the next tranche of levies were already on hold.

The FT cited Chris Johnson, a former CIA China analyst now at the CSIS think-tank, who said the US and China remained “at risk of being stuck” because there was insufficient time before the G20 to reach a broad agreement.

“There is no possibility of a truly comprehensive deal, and that is a good thing because the issues are so complex,” said Mr Johnson. “There is still the possibility of some kind of a framework agreement, where we do something like freezing the current tariffs and empowering the negotiators.”

Such an outcome, the FT reported, would mean US tariff rates on more than $200bn of Chinese goods would remain at 10 per cent instead of rising to 25 per cent in January as planned. As long as negotiations continued, the US would also refrain from putting levies on another $267bn of goods, which Mr Trump has threatened.

The news prompted a furious bounce in the S&P, which after trading down as low as 2,671, jumped as high as 2,736.

However, it was not meant to be, and seemingly in response to the FT story which hinted at a detente in the trade wars, moments US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was quoted by Bloomberg saying that the US is still planning to raise tariffs on Chinese imports to 25%, negating the FT report.

  • ROSS: U.S. STILL PLANS CHINA TARIFF INCREASE TO 25% IN JANUARY

In kneejerk response, the Dow tumbled nearly 100 points, with the S&P trimming much of its gains on the day

Since then, however, upward momentum algos appear to have regained control and the Dow is almost back to unchanged since the Ross headline, as markets realized that the rising tariff - which was announced in September - is due to rise in January, however that plan can change after the Xi-Trump meeting which has yet to be held.

Meanwhile, doubling down on the anti-detente, Reuters cited a US official who said that China's trade offer to the US - referring to the letter sent by Beijing to Trump which we discussed yesterday - should be viewed with skepticism.

  • CHINA'S TRADE OFFER TO U.S. SHOULD BE VIEWED WITH SKEPTICISM - U.S. OFFICIAL
  • CHINA'S TRADE OFFER COVERS 142 ITEMS INCLUDING ISSUES BEIJING IS WILLING TO ADDRESS AND ISSUES IT CONSIDERS OFF LIMITS - U.S. OFFICIAL: RTRS

Either the market has yet to react to this latest set of headlines, or both humans and algos no longer even care about the constant "flashing red" noise from the tape.