Written by Ana Swanson
President Donald Trump on Tuesday unexpectedly put off new tariffs on many Chinese goods, including cellphones, laptop computers and toys, until after the start of the Christmas shopping season, acknowledging the effect that his protracted trade war with Beijing could have on Americans.
Trump pushed a 10% tariff on some imports to Dec. 15, and excluded others from it entirely, while facing mounting pressure from businesses and consumer groups over the harm they say the trade conflict is doing.
The stock market soared after the announcement, following weeks of volatility driven by fears that the standoff between the world’s two largest economies could hamper global economic growth.
The decision was the latest twist in a dispute during which China and the United States have alternately escalated tensions with tit-for-tat tariffs and softened their positions as they sought a deal.
Trump continued to insist on Tuesday that the trade war was hurting only China. But he also admitted that there was potential for the new tariffs to inflict economic pain closer to home.
Trump, frustrated that negotiations had failed to yield an agreement, said on Aug. 1 that the United States would impose the 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports on Sept. 1. That would be in addition to a 25% tariff already imposed on $250 billion of Chinese goods.
But on Tuesday, the United States trade representative’s office said that while a substantial amount of Chinese imports would be subject to the Sept. 1 levy as planned, various consumer electronics, shoes and other items would be spared until mid-December.
Stocks rallied immediately on the news, with the S&P 500 climbing nearly 2% in morning trading before ending the day up 1.5%. The benchmark index was lifted partly by shares in retailers and computer chip producers that have been especially sensitive to the trade tensions.
Trump has been pressing Beijing since last year for an agreement that would, among other things, strengthen protections for American intellectual property, open Chinese markets to American business and result in China’s buying large quantities of American energy and agricultural goods. But negotiators have made little progress since May.