US’ Mnuchin upbeat for Beijing trade talks with Liu after unusual photos

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is in Beijing for trade talks with China

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is in Beijing for trade talks with China

China's exports rebounded in January from a contraction late previous year amid trade tensions with Washington, but imports declined.

While the readings appeared positive at first glance, analysts warned that data from China early in the year must be treated with caution due to business distortions caused by the long Lunar New Year holidays, which started on February 4 this year. Imports declined 1.5 percent to $178.4 billion.

Still China's trade surplus with the USA for the month stood at $27.3 billion.

The increased outlays included big jumps for Medicare, Social Security, defense spending and an $18 billion increase in interest on the public debt - which this month hit a record $22 trillion.

Economists had widely tipped that China would see weaker exports early this year.

"The hardliners seem loath to settle for a deal that represents anything less than total capitulation by China on all USA demands", he said.

"The import slowdown in recent months obviously in part reflects the slowdown in China's domestic economy", said Kuijs.

Steven Mnuchin said earlier he hoped for "productive" trade meetings as the two countries seek to end a festering dispute that has seen both sides level tariffs at one other.

China's trade surplus with the United States narrowed to $27.3 billion in January, the lowest since May 2018, Thursday's data showed.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (C), also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chief of the Chinese side of the China-U.S. comprehensive economic dialogue, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (L) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin jointly chair the opening ceremony of a new round of high-level economic and trade consultations in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 14, 2019.

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Pressure to seal an accord ahead of a March 1 deadline set by Donald Trump appears to have eased slightly after the U.S. president indicated he was open to extending a trade truce depending on progress in Beijing.

Asian stocks steadied and US stock futures climbed.

"Based on the positive signals regarding the U.S".

Beijing has tried to deflect pressure by emphasizing China's growth as an export market.

"There's been notably less progress" concerning such issues, said Jeremie Waterman, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's China Center and a former U.S. trade official.

Some economists predict China's growth rate could drop below 6 percent in the first half of this year before a series of policy measures start to stabilize activity around mid-year.

A slew of bad economic data has added to concerns about China's economy, which grew at its slowest pace in nearly three decades a year ago.

Many analysts also expect sweeping corporate tax cuts to be announced after the annual meeting of parliament in March, but all of the moves will take time to kick in.

"They feel that it is humiliating for China if another country does this", he said.

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