The U.S. and China agreed to a first-stage trade deal last week. China has agreed to purchase more American products from farmers, as well as other exports, while the U.S. has agreed to hold off on a fresh round of tariffs. The U.S. had planned to impose an additional $156 billion in annual tariffs last Sunday (Dec. 15) on Chinese imports, including smartphones, toys, and consumer electronics, reports The Wall Street Journal. However, the 25% tariff on $250 billion in Chinese machinery, electronics, and furniture remains.
China has agreed to increase its purchases of American agricultural products by $32 billion over the next two years, the Journal adds, with China also working to raise the total purchase to $50 billion a year. Yet, some are skeptical about the big boost in agricultural purchases China has promised. According to the Journal, Dave Marshall, a farm-marketing advisor with First Choice Commodities Inc., questions whether China needs $50 billion of agricultural goods. “There is little doubt that China can scale up its purchases from the current pace of about $10 billion a year. Its pork production has been decimated by an African swine fever, and the nation can’t yet feed its population of 1.4 billion only with domestic suppliers. Government control over the economy will also ease the process. Still, in nearly two decades of burgeoning American agricultural exports to China since its admission to the World Trade Organization, there has never been a period with the scale of growth foreseen by the deal,” the Journal reports. Skeptics are also nervous about the lack of a formal written agreement. The draft form is currently still under review.
U.S. trade experts haven’t released an explanation of how such a dramatic boom in agricultural exports can be attained, so analysts continue to have doubts. At the previous highest level, China was purchasing roughly $25 billion of U.S agricultural products, which has fallen to $10 billion in recent years due to the trade war and higher prices of commodities during 2013. Soybean futures were trading 30% higher back then compared to today, while corn and wheat futures were about 100% higher, the Journal reports.
Some believe that the U.S. could achieve its lofty target by expanding sales in other agricultural products, including animal-feed additives and agriculture biotechnology. It makes sense why many remain skeptical about this trade deal. Major national resources from both countries will have to be reallocated to achieve this goal.
Sectors: The average momentum score for the Sector Benchmark ETFs increased from 15.00 to 20.00. Momentum increased in 10 of 11 sectors last week. Energy, with a 14-point jump, had the largest increase in momentum score for the week, followed closely by Technology, which went up 12 points. Real Estate’s score fell by 13 points. Health Care remained in first place, while Real Estate fell to last.
Factors: Among the Factor Benchmark ETFs, the average factor score increased from 17.92 to 24.08. Momentum increased in all 12 factors last week. High Beta’s score increased by 18 points, and Value’s jumped by 8 points. High Beta overtook Quality for first place. Low Volatility, despite a 2-point increase in momentum score, remained the laggard.
Global: The average Global Benchmark ETF momentum score increased from 13.36 to 26.36 for the week. Momentum increased in all 11 regions last week. China, with a 23-point jump, had the largest increase in momentum score, followed closely by the U.K. and Emerging Markets, which increased by 21 points each. China’s big jump launched it into first place for the week. Pacific ex-Japan, despite a 14-point increase in momentum score, remained the laggard.