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Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

In a reverse of expectations of how each country would fare in a growing trade war, China's market has significantly outperformed the U.S. benchmark.

By the numbers: Investors betting on the Shanghai composite since the S&P's most recent peak in September have lost only 7% compared to a nearly 16% decline in the S&P, per FactSet. The U.S. benchmark is on pace for its worst fourth quarter since the financial collapse, and the worst December since the Great Depression.

Yes, but: China’s economic data still show signs of serious stress, while U.S. data — with the notable exception of housing — continue to be strong. But as the stock market is generally considered a forward-looking indicator, that could soon change.

The bottom line: The International Monetary Fund warned of exactly this possibility in July as President Trump ramped up his trade war rhetoric against China as well as Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

“As the focus of global retaliation, the United States finds a relatively high share of its exports taxed in global markets in such a broader trade conflict, and it is therefore especially vulnerable,” IMF chief economist Maury Obstfeld said in a statement.

Editor's note: This article has been clarified to remove a sentence incorrectly suggesting that Chinese stocks have doubled the performance of U.S. stocks. Both have gone down over the interval period.

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