Jan 27, 2020

Most companies expect little to no benefit from China deal

A cargo ship in a port in Longbeach, California, in 2019. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

The phase one U.S.-China trade deal will have little to no impact on sales this year, according to 63% of companies who participated in the latest business conditions survey released today by the National Association for Business Economics.

Why it matters: President Trump has championed the agreement as a "sea change in international trade" and the deal's signing has helped power U.S. stock indexes to fresh record highs, but business owners and economists are less enthusiastic.

  • Of those respondents who do expect an impact, views are equally split, with 15% anticipating a positive impact and 15% expecting a negative impact on their firms’ sales outlook.

Flashback: Last week, a "Reuters poll of more than 100 economists ... showed a significant pickup in the U.S. economy was not on the cards" as a result of the trade deal.

Between the lines: Just 8% of finance, insurance, and real estate businesses (FIRE) and 10% of those in transportation, utilities, information and communications (TUIC) expect a positive effect from the deal, while 30% of TUIC firms and 13% of FIRE firms see negative impacts.

  • Conversely, more than 41% of goods-producing companies and 50% of TUIC companies say tariffs and the trade war had a negative effect on sales.

The big picture: Overall, the survey found businesses were more bullish about economic growth over the coming 12 months than they were in NABE's last outlook in October.

  • Still, NABE Business Conditions Survey chair Megan Greene notes, “For the first time in a decade, there are as many respondents reporting decreases as increases in employment at their firms" over the last three months.

Of note: The Dec. 23–Jan. 8 survey includes responses of 97 NABE members.

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Trump's post-virus, pre-election boom

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak is already scuttling supply chains and wreaking havoc on companies around the world that do business in China, but if analysts' projections are correct, the rebound from the virus could help propel the U.S. economy to new heights right around the time of the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: With President Trump touting the stock market's performance and jobs growth as key accomplishments, that bounceback could play a major role in the election's outcome.

China to cut tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. goods

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and President Trump at the White House on Jan. 15. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

China will halve tariffs on about $75 billion of imports from the U.S., effective Feb. 14, the country's finance ministry said in statements posted to its website Thursday.

Why it matters: This is another sign of tensions easing in the prolonged trade war between the U.S. and China that's brought major uncertainty to the markets and hurt the U.S. manufacturing industry and farmers.

Investors see stocks overvalued, recession looming

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

An overwhelming majority of the world's asset managers think stocks are overvalued and expect a recession this year or in 2021, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Boston Consulting Group.

  • Many say "the current bull market is running on borrowed time."

Why it matters: The survey of more than 250 asset managers and analysts who oversee $300 billion at firms that collectively manage over $10 trillion shows the continued apprehension of investors from around the globe.