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U.S.-China economic talks appear contentious, steel stocks soar

(Recasts with steel stocks reacting to economic talks)

WASHINGTON, July 19 (Reuters) - U.S. and Chinese officials appeared locked in contentious economic talks on Wednesday with the outcome clouded by the cancellation of closing news conferences and U.S. demands for a "more fair" trading relationship with Beijing.

Neither the U.S. Treasury nor the Chinese embassy in Washington offered an explanation for the cancellations.

Investors interpreted the negative signals from the talks as making it more likely that the Trump administration would forge ahead with broad steel tariffs or quotas based on a national security review, sending steelmakers' shares soaring.

Shares of United States Steel Corp closed up 4.8 percent, while AK Steel rose 3.6 percent and Nucor rose 2.2 percent.

"Investors are essentially handicapping a probability that Trump will announce a broad-based anti-dumping measure on steel imports," said Longbow Research analyst Christopher Olin.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in opening remarks to the annual summer dialogue between Washington and Beijing sharply criticized China's $347 billion trade surplus with the United States, saying it was not the product of market forces and the...