The Latest: Mulvaney defends Trump's Fed comments

Posted July 20th, 2018

The Latest on rising trade tensions following comments by President Donald Trump (all times local):

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11:50 a.m.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is defending President Donald Trump's comment lamenting the Federal Reserve's action to raise U.S. interest rates.

Mulvaney says he's sure most presidents have had similar thoughts about Fed actions, adding: "There's nothing non-factual or inaccurate about it."

Mulvaney tells Fox News Channel that Trump "is not the first president, nor he is he the first Republican conservative or Democrat who is frustrated that every time things seem to getting a lot better (economically), the Fed tries to pump the brakes."

Mulvaney said Trump "absolutely respects the independence of the Fed, but that doesn't prevent him or previous presidents from voicing their opinions."

Trump's comments break with a long-standing White House tradition to avoid any real or perceived influence on the nation's central bank.

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9:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump is predicting that U.S. farmers will emerge victorious from a trade dispute that has hurt soybean prices.

Trump in a tweet blamed poor soybean prices on "bad (terrible) Trade Deals" with U.S. trading partners in the past. He's also pointing to Canada's placement of high tariffs on dairy products but says, "Farmers will WIN!"

The tweet comes as Trump is indicating he may escalate his trade fight with China and showing a willingness to place tariffs on up to $500 billion in products imported from China. The administration has slapped tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods to date and China has retaliated with duties on soybeans and pork.

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9:13 a.m.

President Donald Trump is criticizing the Federal Reserve as well as some of the largest U.S. trading partners over monetary policy.

In a Friday tweet the president laments rising U.S. interest rates, a day after he cast aside concerns about the Federal Reserve's independence to say he was unhappy with the central bank's recent actions.

Trump says: "China, the European Union and others have been manipulating their currencies and interest rates lower, while the U.S. is raising rates while the dollars gets stronger and stronger with each passing day - taking away our big competitive edge."

He adds: "As usual, not a level playing field..."

Trump made a campaign pledge of designating China as a currency manipulator, but his administration has declined to make an official determination to that effect.

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9:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump is indicating that he's ready to hit every product imported from China with tariffs, sending U.S. markets sliding before the opening bell.

In a taped interview with the business channel CNBC, Trump said "I'm willing to go to 500," referring roughly to the $505.5 billion in goods imported last year from China.

The administration to date has slapped tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods in a trade dispute over what it calls the nation's predatory practices.

Dow futures that had already been pointing modestly lower slid sharply about a half hour before the opening bell.

The yuan dipped to a 12-month low of 6.8 to the dollar, off by 7.6 percent since mid-February.

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