US, China leave future of trade talks unclear

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The US highlighted China's pledge to purchase more agriculture and other goods, without providing specifics.

China's foreign ministry confirmed the negotiations had ended in Beijing but declined to comment on the outcome, saying details would be released later. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks rose 0.9 percent to 1,438.81.

The meetings in China were the first face-to-face negotiations since U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Buenos Aires in December and agreed a 90-day truce in a trade war that has disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars of goods. They have tried to defuse pressure for more sweeping change by offering trade concessions including purchasing more American soybeans, natural gas and other exports. On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that the talks "are going very well".

Oil also caught investors' attention after U.S. crude and Brent jumped overnight, helped by optimism over easing Sino-U.S. trade tensions, while OPEC-led crude output cuts also provided support.

Also Tuesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Beijing in a possible effort to co-ordinate with the North's only major ally ahead of a possible meeting with Trump.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday the two sides were narrowing their differences, with Chinese officials offering greater purchases of U.S. goods and services and Cabinet-level follow-up meetings expected later this month. Trump and his officials have repeatedly accused Beijing of the "theft" of American intellectual property and of forcing USA corporations to transfer technology to their Chinese partners as the price of doing business in China. While Beijing regards these plans as essential to China's continued economic growth, Washington is hostile to the threat that it poses not only to the dominant position of U.S. corporations, but also to United States military superiority. "There is the potential for Q2 US crude exports to Asia to be higher year-on-year if the WTI/Brent spread remains in the range it has in recent months and with the lower freight rates", Reuters quoted a Genscape oil analyst, David Arno, as saying.

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If no deal is reached by 2 March, Trump has said he will proceed with raising tariffs to 25% from 10% on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports at a time when China's economy is slowing significantly.

Tesla broke ground this week in Shanghai on its first factory outside the U.S. Musk said production of its Model 3 would start late this year.

US companies also want action on Chinese policies they complain improperly favor local companies. Those include subsidies and other favors for high-tech and state-owned industry, rules on technology licensing and preferential treatment of domestic suppliers in government procurement.

China said in a statement from the Commerce Ministry that the trade talks "improved mutual understanding and laid the foundation for resolving issues of mutual concern".

If US crude futures can break through the $55 level, "you're going to see real yields probably lower". They say China's companies are treated unfairly in national security reviews of proposed corporate acquisitions, though nearly all deals are approved unchanged. "There are also reports of new initiatives by China to boost spending and that's desirable from the perspective of Chinese and global growth". The US team was led by Deputy US Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish, who is reportedly closely aligned to Lighthizer.

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