Boeing, Caterpillar stocks rise as investors bet a China trade deal will come soon, Jim Cramer says

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Investors made a move on industrial stocks in anticipation that a U.S.-China trade agreement is near completion, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Thursday.

“A lot of money managers are betting we’ll get a trade deal in the not-too-distant future, which is why Boeing and Caterpillar roared higher today,” the “Mad Money” host said.

The world’s two largest economies reportedly made progress in trade talks this week, and stocks gained on the news. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, powered by Boeing’s nearly 3 percent rise, added more than 166 points on the session and the S&P 500 gained 0.2 percent for its first six-day winning streak in more than a year.

The Nasdaq, on the other hand, shed 0.1 percent.

“While I’m very skeptical about these negotiations with China, because I know that [the U.S.] wants to keep the tariffs on no matter what, the stock market is saying: ‘hey, a deal is a deal,'” Cramer said. “This kind of positivity seems counterintuitive in the face of the conventional wisdom about this market.”

Cramer said Boeing’s stock should have fallen Thursday after investigatorsblamed the plane manufacturer, not the pilots, for an Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people last month. The company has been under scrutiny after two fatal 737 Max jet crashes within 5 months. Cramer also said the Federal Aviation Authority probe and software fix could cut into production of Boeing’s top-selling jet, he said.

But China, in an effort to show good faith in trade negotiations, could be prepared to make a “statement buy” for a ton of Boeing planes, the host said.

“It would be greeted so positively, oh my, which is why I can’t blame anyone for wanting to own the stock here, not sell it or short it,” Cramer said. “Plus, look, we know Boeing’s going to fix the problem, this is Boeing for heaven’s sake. These guys are [passionate] about safety. As tragic as those two crashes were, I bet we ultimately move on and Boeing’s business ends up doing fine.”

China could also buy equipment from Caterpillar, he said. Cramer said he was surprised that Deutsche Bank downgraded the stock on Wednesday.

“They need earthmovers. So this could be a great time for the Chinese Communist Party to direct their state-owned enterprises to buy earthmovers from Caterpillar instead of, say, Komatsu,” he said. “I think that could turn out to be a very ill-advised downgrade.”

Additionally, retailers will be a winner if they a trade deal eases tariffs on Chinese imports, Cramer said. Investors could also be expecting a strong March jobs number to be released Friday, following a positive jobless claim report on Thursday, he said.

“The consumer is alive and well. The economy is alive and well, too,” Cramer said. “If we get a trade deal and those duties are withdrawn, you could raise numbers for most of the retailers immediately.”

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