Markets News & Opinions

Dow Futures Swing Violently amid Trump-China Trade ‘Funeral’

Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) futures swung wildly in pre-market trading Thursday as Chinese delegates arrive at the Trump White House for high-level trade talks.

But optimism is low going into the meeting as China and the US both take defensive positions. One Shanghai investor struck a particularly sombre tone about Thursday’s summit.

“To my jaded perception it looks less than a delegation rather a funeral cortege” – John Browning, BANDS Financial.

Dow futures weak after volatile after-hours trading

It’s been a rocky ride for US stock futures in overnight trading. Dow futures plunged at 3.15 am ET as hopes for a trade deal evaporated. At the time of writing (5.57 am ET), DJIA futures paired some of the losses, but stopped short of breaking into positive territory.

Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) futures swung aimlessly ahead of the US stock market open. Source: Yahoo Finance

S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq Composite futures were down 0.14% apiece.

Any hope for a Trump-China truce?

Reports are mixed ahead of the crucial two-day summit in Washington DC. The negotiation table will be filled with heavy hitters, including Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

However, the senior diplomats may be running headfirst into a brick wall. Liu He explained that China is only willing to discuss a partial deal, and only if Trump agrees to take further tariffs off the table.

Dow futures took a hit on early reports that suggested the Chinese delegation planned to end the summit early after Thursday’s scheduled talks. White House officials refuted the claim, saying that Friday has been left for open discussions.

Trump: China wants a trade deal more than us

China’s defensive play was matched by Donald Trump. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday evening, he said:

“In my opinion China wants to make a deal more than I do.”

Trump’s comments imply he’s willing to walk away if he’s unhappy with the outcome. But in a last-minute plot twist, the US is reportedly considering a currency pact with China, laying the groundwork for a potential deal. 

“An agreement on exchange rates could be a practical, face-saving way for both sides to reach a mini-deal that helps de-escalate trade tensions” – Bloomberg’s Chang Shu and David Qu.

Dow Jones on edge

Traders remain jittery as conflicting reports flood the newswires. Look forward to a day of speculation, rumors, and leaks before the inevitable press conference at the end of the summit. 

Last modified: September 23, 2020 1:07 PM

Ben Brown

Ben is a journalist with a decade of experience covering financial markets. Based in London, UK, his writing has appeared in The Huffington Post and he was Chief Editor at Block Explorer, the world's longest-running source of Blockchain data. Reach him at Twitter at _Ben_Brown. Email ben @