September 20, 2018 / 2:47 PM / 3 months ago

REFILE-UPDATE 3-BlackRock's Fink: U.S. a short-term 'big winner' in China trade war

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By Kate Duguid and Jennifer Ablan

NEW YORK, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Larry Fink, chief executive of BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, on Thursday said the United States is "a big winner" in the trade war with China "in the short-term," but not necessarily over time.

Fink, speaking at Yahoo Finance's second annual "All Markets Summit," said the United States is currently the dominant force in the trade war because U.S. companies are benefiting from the strong dollar. That has driven U.S. stocks up, while equities have fallen elsewhere.

In the long term, however, trade tensions will hurt the United States as they are leading more non-American companies to expand their business ties with China, Fink said.

Still, Fink said he did not expect China's renminbi to become a global currency of choice anytime soon, even though U.S. President Donald Trump's protectionist policies may benefit China in the long-term.

Fink also said he is worried about U.S. unilateralism. "The world is probably economically less safe."

BlackRock's $6.3 trillion assets under management make the New York-based firm one of the most influential voices on investing worldwide. Fink was the first speaker at the event, addressing a group that included investors and executives.

Fink also said that for U.S. companies to be successful in coming years, they must consider their position on social and political issues. Millennial consumers and employees want to associate with brands that they believe in, he said.

Companies like Nike Inc, which recently launched an ad campaign featuring football player and black activist Colin Kaepernick, Fink said, are succeeding on that front.

"More people want to associate themselves with a brand that they believe in," Fink said. "Employees are more interested in working for a company that they believe in," he added.

As for the short term, Fink said that despite trade concerns and political instability around the world, U.S. stocks would likely continue their strong performance.

“I’m not really concerned about whether we’ll see a setback. The markets have rallied since 2009,” he said. “If you look at the markets today, we see a huge increase in corporate earnings on the back of tax cuts and a rising economy.”

Fink also observed that even as stock prices have risen, valuations have become more attractive for investors.

“[The price/earnings multiple] is lower today than it was a year ago, so the marketplace is now discounting some of those worries,” he said. “Some people may think they’re discounting enough, but with P/E down, you could say the market is less expensive.” (Reporting By Jennifer Ablan and Kate Duguid; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Dan Grebler)

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