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Forget tariffs, China's alleged intellectual property theft a bigger threat to market: Analyst

  • A trade war won't materialize from President Trump's new tariffs, Jeffrey Schulze says.
  • A ruling that China stole intellectual property from American companies and potential retaliation would be a much bigger threat to the markets, according to Schulze.

There's a bigger threat to the market than President Donald Trump's new tariff proposal, strategist Jeffrey Schulze told CNBC on Friday.

The president said Thursday he wants to impose a 10 percent tariff on aluminum and a 25 percent tariff on steel.

"We have a much more important ruling that's going to be coming out" regarding allegations that China has stolen intellectual property from U.S. companies, the chief investment strategist at ClearBridge Investments said in an interview with "Power Lunch."

Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Fred Dufour | AFP | Getty Images
Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Trump has said in the past that he's considering a big fine as part of the probe into China's alleged theft.

While Trump did not specify what he meant by a "fine" against China, the 1974 trade law that authorized an investigation into China's alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property allows him to impose retaliatory tariffs on Chinese goods or other trade sanctions until China changes its policies.

If the Chinese are found guilty, Schulze fears that the nation will retaliate.

"That ruling is going to weigh on investor sentiment right now for the next month. And until we get a little bit of visibility there, I think the markets are going to be trading in a choppy pattern," he said.

The market sold off on Thursday after Trump's tariff announcement, with fears of a potential trade war weighing on investors. On Friday, however, stocks closed higher.

"Does this evolve into a full-fledged trading war? Because then you go way beyond steel," Prudential Financial Chief Market Strategist Quincy Krosby told "Power Lunch."

"The answer is we just don't know. And markets do not like the uncertainty," she added.

Jack Bouroudjian, chief economist and co-founder of UCX, said if the tariffs expand into more widespread protectionism, the U.S. won't be happy with the results.

"Protectionism is a prosperity killer, plain and simple," he said in an interview with "Closing Bell."

— Reuters contributed to this report.

Correction: Quincy Krosby is Prudential Financial's chief market strategist. A previous version of this story misstated Krosby's title.