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A day after “news” on the lack of progress of U.S.-China trade talks led to a decline in stocks, “news” of progress in the talks has led to a modest rally. The Standard & Poor’s 500 closed up 0.63% today and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was ahead 0.53%. The NASDAQ Composite finished up 0.54% and the Russell 2000 small cap index was higher at the close by 0.70%.

I put “news” in quotes because there really isn’t any news either yesterday or today in the sense of hard facts and sourced quotes from important players. What we and the markets have instead is speculation on what Chinese and U.S. negotiators might be thinking, unsourced paraphrases from speaker who may or may not know anything, and comments from China and the White House that are clearly intended to manipulate the ongoing negotiations and sentiment around the talks.

If the results of these talks on securing a Part 1 agreement–to settle the most easily settled issues, remember–weren’t so important to corporate revenue and stock prices, the market would ignore this kind of hogwash completely. But it can’t because investors know that the outcome of the talks will move asset prices significantly.

But we are looking at a pattern of gradual exhaustion in the reaction to these speculations. The indexes aren’t moving a great deal today because investors and traders have heard it all–both optimism and pessimism–before.

The key date remains December 15 when President Donald Trump has scheduled additional tariffs on Chinese exports to the United States to go into effect. The President will either delay or rescind those tariffs before they go into effect or he won’t–depending on his assessment of progress in the talks (and on his political calculations on the continued usefulness of the trade war.)

I think the likelihood is a delay on those tariffs and continued talks on a Part 1 deal. But I wouldn’t put the odds at better than 60/40. My bookmaking is based on my read on how the political advantages of a deal/no deal play out for both parties to the talks and I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve got my calculations wrong.

It’s very hard to handicap this situation when we really don’t have any true “news.”