No U.S.-China Trade Deal in Place; Deadline Closing In

The apparent reason U.S. President Trump cannot sabotage a trade deal with China -- by not meeting before March with counterpart Xi Jinping -- is that there is no deal yet to destroy, according to media reports.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that trade talks between the two countries are so far apart that neither side has put anything in writing yet.

The Journal also said the two sides have not even drafted an accord specifying the matters they agree and disagree on. The U.S. and China are trying to meet an early March trade deadline. If a deal is not struck before then, U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods will increase, barring some sort of extension.

The report comes just a day after White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said there is a "pretty sizable distance to go" before China and the U.S. reach a deal. Kudlow also indicated, however, that President Donald Trump is "optimistic with respect to a potential trade deal."

After that, Trump said that a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping will not take place before the crucial March deadline. Trump's remarks came hours after media reports that the meeting was "highly unlikely," citing a senior White House official.

U.S. stocks fell sharply on Thursday as it became clear the meeting will not take place before the deadline.