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Asian stocks suffer after Trump says China trade deal might have to wait

Asian stocks suffered sharp losses on Wednesday, as investors become more anxious after US President Donald Trump said a trade deal with China might have to wait until after the 2020 election.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.2%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell about 1%.

South Korea’s Kospi also dropped around 1%, while China’s Shanghai Composite lost 0.2%.

Trump on Tuesday suggested to reporters in London that a trade deal with Beijing might come much later than many expected, saying “in some ways I think it’s better to wait for after the election, if you want to know the truth.”

That contradicted remarks made last month, when Trump said the United States and China are “potentially very close” to striking a deal.

Separately, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC that delaying a trade deal could take leverage from China. Ross added that it was important the president made clear that he wasn’t under any time pressure to get a deal done.

The secretary also said that US import tariffs would continue unless there was a deal. The next round of tariffs is set to take effect on December 15.

Given recent investor optimism about US-China trade talks, the latest headlines are “extremely bitter pills” for the market to swallow, according to Steven Innes, chief Asia market strategist for AxiTrader.

The Trump administration appears to be “applying maximum pressure” on China and hinting that the deal could be worse post-election 2020 than the current one on the table, he said.

The re-escalation of US-China trade tensions have dented investor sentiment in Asia, according to ING economists in a note on Wednesday.

“President Trump has dashed hopes of a phase one trade deal by mid-December and also hinted at ‘no deal’ until after 2020 elections, implying a prolonged uncertainty well into the next year,” they said.

Trump’s comments also shook Wall Street investors on Tuesday, with all three major indexes closing sharply lower.

CNN

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