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'Everybody’s losing the trade war': Strategist

The U.S. is about to enter its 14th round of trade talks with China. The high-level talks are expected to take place sometime in October, but Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Nuveen, isn’t holding out any great hope.

“I think we both need each other desperately,” Doll said on Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade.” “I don’t think either is hurting enough to come crawling on their hands and knees and is like, can we please talk.”

Doll says the two sides are still “miles apart” on the really important issues including the theft of U.S. intellectual property and access to China’s capital markets.

“I think everybody’s losing the trade war,” Doll said. “You don’t solve in a few months a problem that’s taken decades to transpire.”

Who’s to blame?

Some market watchers blame the nearly two-year-old trade war on China’s reluctance to make a deal ahead of next year’s presidential election.

David Nelson, chief strategist at Belpointe Management, is not in that camp. He says Wall Street and Main Street should brace for what could be a protracted trade dispute, that may not end with a change in leadership at the White House.

“This next election may actually end up being a referendum on just who’s the toughest out there and who can go up against [China],” Nelson said.

He points out that Senators Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren are among the Democratic lawmakers talking tough on China.

“We can debate the tactics used and whether or not this is the right policy to deal with this situation, but what isn’t up for debate is the fact that it has to be done, and if it isn’t Trump, who’s going to do it? Somebody on the other side of the aisle is, because Americans finally get it, the polls show that,” he said.

More than two-thirds of American voters want the U.S. to confront Beijing over its trade policies, even though 74% say that American consumers are carrying most of the burden of the tariffs, according to a Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey.

All about profits

While the U.S. trade war with China may dictate the intra-day swings of global stock markets, Doll said the most important thing for investors remains the health of corporate profits.

Looking out the next 18 months, Doll thinks earnings expectations are still too high.

“I’m most worried about next year,” he said. “Consensus is still up 10 and a fraction. My guess is it’s going to be about half that.”

Alexis Christoforous is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade.” Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.

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