Cramer: US economic strength empowers Trump to continue to play hardball on China trade

President Donald Trump can continue to take a hard line on China trade because the U.S. economy keeps chugging along, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Thursday.

“Trump is set in his ways because he doesn’t see any weakening” in growth compared with the drag that China’s economy has been experiencing, Cramer contended on “Squawk on the Street.”

Cramer was reacting to China announcing on Thursday that top U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators spoke by phone late Wednesday and agreed to meet early next month for another round of talks. U.S. officials confirmed the call but not the October timetable, saying only that talks would happen in the “coming weeks” in Washington. Previously, both sides were indicating they would meet in September.

“The Chinese still need it more than we do,” Cramer said, pointing to the strong U.S. labor market, with Thursday data on weekly jobless claims showing only a small uptick and the ADP private payrolls report for August coming in much better than expected. Investors are looking through those numbers for hints on what the government’s monthly employment report might show when it’s released Friday.

“What I’m surprised at is how strong the consumer is,” Cramer said, while dismissing the notion that the U.S-China trade war and the billions of dollars of import tariffs on both sides caused American manufacturing to slow. “Manufacturing has been in recession in this country for ages,” he said, advising investors not to worry too much about August data, out earlier this week, that showed U.S. manufacturing in contraction for the first time in three years.

The latest round of tariffs went into effect Sunday, with the U.S. imposing 15% duties on about a third of the additional $300 billion worth of Chinese goods earmarked for levies. China on Sunday also put into effect tariffs of between 5% and 10% on part of the $75 billion retaliatory list of U.S. goods. The rest of the duties on both sides are set to go into effect Dec. 15.

CNBC’s before the bell news roundup

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