President Donald Trump is pushing hard to strike a trade deal with China in the hope of lifting the stock market ahead of his re-election bid, three sources briefed on talks told CNBC.
The sources said Trump wants a rally as he gets set to run for a second term and has decided that resolving the U.S.-China trade dispute can make that happen.
The president is increasingly concerned that the lack of a trade agreement could knock down stocks, Bloomberg News reported earlier Wednesday. Trump has taken notice of the market’s gains as both sides get closer to a deal, the report added.
U.S. stocks started 2019 strong, with the S&P 500 surging more than 11 percent through Tuesday’s close. Part of the rally has been fueled by investors increasing bets that China and the U.S. will strike a trade deal soon. However, there are growing concerns that a deal is fully baked into the market, possibly limiting any more gains coming from positive trade news.
CNBC learned through sources on Monday that China and the U.S. were in the “final stages” of trade talks that could end this month. Sources also said the two sides are working on a summit at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida resort, to cap off the negotiations.
Worries over the two countries’ skirmish kept Wall Street on edge for most of last year as investors worried about the impasse’s impact on corporate earnings.
One of the president’s goals in striking a new deal with China is to rein in the U.S. trade deficit, a sticking point of his since he first ran in 2016. The trade deficit keeps growing, however.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the U.S. trade deficit reached a 10-year high in December, hitting $59.8 billion. That number easily surpassed a Refinitiv estimate of $57.3 billion. In November, the deficit was at $50.3 billion.
The department’s report showed the deficit expansion took place amid a 2.1 percent increase in imports to $264.9 billion while exports dropped 1.9 percent to $205.1 billion.
The deficit has widened as a strong dollar makes it harder for foreign countries to buy U.S. goods, while slowing global growth is also hurting demand for U.S. goods.
The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.