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Phase-One Trade Deal Reached

The Week on Wall Street

The U.S. and China announced a limited trade agreement last week. That news lifted U.S. and foreign stocks, leading to weekly gains. 

Advancing 0.91% on the week, the Nasdaq Composite outperformed the S&P 500 (up 0.73%) and Dow Jones Industrial Average (up 0.43%). The MSCI EAFE index, measuring the performance of developed markets overseas, improved 0.42%.

Phase-One Trade Deal Reached, December Tariffs Averted

Friday, White House and Chinese officials confirmed an agreement on what has been characterized as an initial step toward a larger trade pact. As a result of this phase-one deal, new U.S. tariffs (slated to go into effect on December 15) were canceled. The 15% tariffs (imposed on $110 billion of Chinese goods in September) now fall to 7.5%.

In return, China commits to buy greater quantities of American crops, factory goods, and energy products.

Fed Holds Steady on Short-Term Interest Rates

The last Federal Reserve meeting of the year brought no adjustment for the federal funds rate. The vote to leave short-term rates unchanged was unanimous.

After the meeting, Fed chair Jerome Powell told the media, “as long as incoming information about the economy remains broadly consistent with [our] outlook, the current stance of monetary policy will likely remain appropriate.”

Retail Sales Disappoint

Economists, surveyed by Bloomberg, expected a retail sales gain of 0.5% for November, but according to the Department of Commerce, the advance was only 0.2%. In a bright spot for analysts who wanted to see a strong start to the holiday shopping season, sales at online retailers rose 0.8% last month.