These 6 charts compare the US and China economies in the second year of their trade war

Flags of the U.S. and China fly along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 17, 2011.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The U.S.China trade war entered its second year in 2019, increasingly weighing on both economies amid worsening business sentiment globally.

Here are six charts that look at how the world’s top two economies and their financial markets have performed in the year.

Economic growth slows

Growth in gross domestic product — the broadest measure of an economy — slowed down in both the U.S. and China last year.

Several economists predicted that growth rates in both countries could moderate even more in 2020, due to their continued trade friction and respective domestic challenges. That would add pressure to an already fragile global economy.

Trade volume declines

Overall exports and imports fell in both countries in the first ten months of 2019, compared to a year ago. That came amid slower trading activity worldwide — a trend some experts said started even before the U.S.-China trade war.

The overall U.S. trade deficit, mostly contributed by a bilateral imbalance with China, hasn’t changed much in the year. That’s despite the U.S.-China trade imbalance falling from $344.5 billion in the January-to-October 2018 period to $294.5 billion a year later, according to data by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Manufacturing downturn

The manufacturing sectors of the U.S. and China have felt the pinch of a slowing global economy, which was made worse by the trade war between the two countries.

China’s official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index — a widely watched indicator of the sector’s health — has stayed in contraction territory for most of the year. That means the index came in below the 50-point level. In the U.S., the manufacturing PMI compiled by the Institute for Supply Management showed factory activity contracting since August.

Retail sales steady

Consumer spending in the U.S. and China were among the bright spots of their respective economies in 2019, supported by a steady labor market in both economies.

But there are risks the optimism may not sustain.

Some analysts warned that additional U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods could dampen spending among American consumers. In China, rising pork prices may cut consumer spending in other areas, said Francis Tan, investment strategist at Singapore’s UOB Private Bank.

Currency movements

A relatively strong U.S. economy and investors’ preference for safe-haven assets increased demand for the greenback, lifting the currency’s value for 2019.

Stock market rally

In financial markets, rate cuts by the Federal Reserve and receding trade war tensions during certain periods in the year supported investor sentiment and sent stocks on Wall Street to multiple new highs this year despite weak corporate earnings.

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