Wall St near flat as trade deal outlook uncertain

US stocks close higher; Boeing shares turn volatile

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had been expected to hold a summit at the president's Mar-a-Lago property in Florida later this month, but no date has been set for a meeting.

US Trade representative Robert Lighthizer this week pointed to "major issues" still unresolved in the talks, with few signs of a breakthrough on the most hard subjects. "It shows we're probably range-bound 2,750 to 2,800 until we get answers to China trade, Brexit etc.", he said, referring to the level of the S&P 500.

None the less, followed by the news of a delayed Trump-Xi summit, the Aussie shares alongside currency, which were widely considered as a hallmark of investors' confidence on Chinese economy, had tottered on Thursday (March 14th), as ASX 200 had closed the day deep in the reds and the Australian dollar faltered over 0.50 percent to $0.7050 during mid-morning USA trading hours.

"There's still a lot of work to do, but we're very comfortable with where we are", Mnuchin said.

For the record, I think the pause in tariffs is a good thing because tariffs are a bad idea in the first place.

Donald Trump told reporters at the White House that "we're going to know over the next three to four weeks" whether there will be a trade deal with China. China retaliated by slapping duties on about $110 billion of USA goods.

Trump himself has dialed down the urgency of getting a deal signed as early as this month. "We can have the deal completed and come and sign or we can get the deal nearly completed and negotiate some of the final points".

He is also open to complete the trade agreement before or after the summit. "I would prefer that, but it doesn't matter that much", he said.

The negotiations have zeroed in on the phasing out of joint-venture requirements, the deal's enforcement mechanism and the lifting of tariffs the two sides have imposed on each other, the people familiar with the talks said. He added that China had been "very responsible and very reasonable".

At a separate hearing in the House of Representatives on Thursday, Mnuchin said he expected elements of the discussions to be resolved in the near future, as the two sides pore over a 150-page document they are working on. 'We want to get the agreement right...that's more important than the exact timing, ' he said.

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