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Art Cashin: Wall Street is more concerned about US-China trade than possible Trump impeachment

Key Points
  • The U.S.-China trade dispute is still the top concern on Wall Street, says longtime trader Art Cashin.
  • "The weekend talk shows were consumed with the impeachment deal, and it doesn't seem to have a major market impact," argues the director of UBS floor operations at the NYSE.
  • High-level trade negotiators resume talks aimed at ending their disputes on Oct. 10 in Washington.
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The U.S.-China trade war remains the top concern on Wall Street — not the House Democratic impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, longtime trader Art Cashin told CNBC on Monday.

"The weekend talk shows were consumed with the impeachment deal, and it doesn't seem to have a major market impact," said Cashin, director of UBS floor operations at the NYSE. "The key that remains all encompassing is the China trade."

That's not to say the House impeachment inquiry — formally announced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week — is inconsequential, Cashin said on "Squawk on the Street."

"The way we've seen it as an impact is when these hearings get partisan and acrimonious, it makes the traders feel the chances of getting infrastructure, the chances of getting anything else done, are almost nil," explained Cashin, who's worked on Wall Street for about 50 years.

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However, traders' main focus is on the chances of a resolution to the long-running trade dispute between the world's two largest economies, he said. High-level trade negotiators resume talks aimed at ending their disputes on Oct. 10 in Washington.

The market has been all over the map in the year-plus since the U.S.-China trade war got underway in earnest. Heading into the final day of the third quarter, the S&P 500 was able to claw back to about 2% of its July all-time record high.

Cashin — who was recently described by The Washington Post as "Wall Street's version of Walter Cronkite" — said, "The obsession remains with the China trade, rather than with impeachment in politics."

Pundits on Wall Street and in Washington generally say that a Trump impeachment process could unfold much like that of former President Bill Clinton, who 20 years ago was impeached by the House but not convicted by the Senate.

The S&P 500 rallied 28% from January 1998, as the first reports of Clinton's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky emerged, through the Senate acquittal a year later, according to Bespoke.