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US companies are flashing warning signs about the Chinese economy

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Visitors look at Ford models at Auto Guangzhou in Guangzhou, China November 17, 2017.

Retailers are getting hit particularly hard on China-related news, even if the impact hasn’t quiet hit their bottom line. Tiffany’s shares fell 9.6 percent on Nov. 28 after the jeweler released disappointing third-quarter sales that were hurt by weaker spending from Chinese tourists in the U.S. and Hong Kong. The luxury jeweler’s earnings were in line with estimates, but revenue of $1.01 billion was shy of the $1.05 billion estimate from analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Target said in September that it was “deeply troubled” by the Trump administration’s escalating trade war, saying it threatens to undermine the U.S. economy, penalizes American families and raises prices on everything from backpacks to playpens.

The trade war hasn’t impacted all U.S. companies equally. Lululemon and Nike have cited China as a bright spot in recent earnings reports. Nike sales there grew by 31 percent during the company’s fiscal second quarter that ended Nov. 30.

“Now, while there has been uncertainty of late regarding US-China relations, we have not seen any impact on our business,” Chief Financial Officer Andy Campion told analysts on a conference call last month. “Nike continues to win with the consumer in China.”

Lululemon, Starbucks and other U.S. retailers have fared better by partnering with local companies in China.

China is also the world’s fastest growing aviation market, and a slowdown would hurt aircraft manufacturers and carriers, although it hasn’t affected them so far.

The International Air Transport Association, an industry group representing commercial airlines around the globe, has said it expects China to overtake the U.S. as the largest aviation market in the world by 2022.

So far, the industry mood has been upbeat. In September, Boeing, the world’s largest commercial aircraft manufacturer, raised its estimate for the number of planes China will need through 2037 by 6 percent to nearly 7,700, planes worth some $1.2 trillion.

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