US trade deficit rises to near 9½-year high
The Commerce Department said the trade gap rose 1.6 percent to $57.6 billion.
That was the highest level since October 2008.
Part of the rise in the trade deficit in February reflected commodity price increases.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – It took China just 11 hours to retaliate against the United States for proposing tariffs on some 1,300 Chinese products, but Chinese officials are holding back on taking aim at their largest American import: government debt.
In a tit-for-tat response to the Trump administration’s plan for 25 percent duties on $50 billion of Chinese imports, China hit back with its own list of similar duties on key American imports including soybeans, planes, cars, beef and chemicals. But officials signaled no interest for now in bringing their vast holdings of U.S. Treasuries to the fight.
China held around $1.17 trillion of Treasuries as of the end of January, making it the largest of America’s foreign creditors and the No. 2 overall owner of U.S. government bonds after the Federal Reserve. Any move by China to chop its Treasury portfolio could inflict significant harm on U.S. finances and global investors, driving bond yields higher and making it more costly to finance the federal government.(Graphic: Top U.S. trade partners & foreign holders of Treasuries – reut.rs/2CUqQB0)
Chinese state media hailed their leaders’ quick counteroffensive in the brewing trade war with the U.S. and said America would learn a “painful lesson” by tangling with China.
The articles and editorials across the Communist Party’s media stable came even as the country started a long holiday weekend. They emphasized that China was acting only in self-defense, and that the Trump administration’s move to levy a 25 percent tariff on about 1,300 types of Chinese imports was opposed by many in the U.S.
“As China deploys its counterattack, the pleasure that the U.S. achieved from those tariffs will now cause them suffering as their financial and political gains diminish to zero,” the Global Times wrote in an editorial Thursday. The tabloid, which sometimes takes more hawkish positions, has run five editorials on the trade issue since Monday.