Mixed signals have been coming out from US President Donald Trump's administration since the G20 talks at the weekend. Photo: AFP / Ralf Hirschberger / dpa
Photo: AFP / Ralf Hirschberger

US stocks fell on Thursday after White House officials signaled that President Donald Trump will not meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping before a critical March 1 deadline.

Trump later confirmed the news, replying “no” when asked by reporters in the Oval Office about a possible meeting. US officials have said that tariffs on Chinese goods will be raised if a deal is not reached by the end of this month.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index closed down 0.87% and 0.94% respectively. Along with trade concerns, economic data released on Thursday reflected slowing global economic growth.

Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow had reiterated earlier in the day that there was still a “sizable distance to go” for the US and China to come to an agreement, but he stressed that the president was still optimistic.

“The president has indicated that he’s optimistic with respect to a potential China trade deal. But, but, but, but, but, we’ve got a pretty sizable distance to go here,” Kudlow said in an interview with Fox Business Network.

A source quoted by the Financial Times had said that Trump personally suggested a meeting with Xi in Vietnam, where the US president is scheduled to meet with Kim Jong Un at the end of the month. The person said Beijing offered to hold a meeting in Hainan, an island province of China located near Vietnam. Trump administration officials refused.

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