They also agreed to meet on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the end of the month.
Alexander said he would be discussing trade with Li, though neither of them mentioned the ongoing tariff war in remarks in front of reporters.
Analysts said Trump could be simply trying to sooth investors and boost the stock market in the run up to the midterm elections by teasing a deal.
"They want to make a deal so badly".
But there remains plenty of reason for pessimism.
But Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic adviser, sounded a more cautious note on CNBC Friday. "We're not on the cusp of a deal".
Peter Navarro, director of the National Trade Council within the White House, struck a similar wait-and-see note on Saturday about the Trump-Xi meeting.
ENERGY: Oil prices continued to weaken after the Department of Energy said US crude stockpiles increased for the sixth straight week.
"Both leaders attach great importance to China-U.S. ties and economic ties", Lu said. And he has previously made concessions to USA adversaries that have drawn backlash from both Democrats and Republicans.
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Officials are working to resolve differences ahead of upcoming talks between President Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. The decision was roundly lambasted in Congress.
"Frankly, the principal culprit is China", he said. "Also had good discussion on North Korea!"
And Trump's history of reneging on agreements is presumably well understood in Beijing.
"The best possible outcome of the Xi-Trump meeting would be a suspension of imposing tariffs on each other, but the United States would continue its all-out blockade on China's technology development", said Shi Yinhong, a professor on global relations at Renmin University and an adviser to Beijing. He backed out on a deal congressional Democrats said they struck with Trump to provide legal status to young undocumented immigrants. It also fuelled speculation that Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He's trip to the USA, which had originally been scheduled for September but was cancelled due to the escalation of the trade dispute, might be back in the cards. "But it will be a good deal for the United States".
Much remains unclear about Trump's posture toward China.
China and the United States are locked in an increasingly bitter trade war, and have placed tariffs on some of each others' imports. It slumped 2.5 percent to $63.69 a barrel in NY. He stressed that the United States has made significant progress in trade with China. In Beijing Trump's move was seen as an insult to Xi, who sent a personal emissary to Washington for the negotiations, and cemented a view that Trump's real goal is to thwart China's rise.
The direct talks were the first between the two leaders to have been reported since May.
"China has been hurt over the last number of months".
After the bell, though, shares of Apple tumbled about 7.0 percent after it said sales for the crucial holiday quarter could miss Wall Street expectations due to weakness in emerging markets and foreign exchange costs.