Global shares fall on worries over China

TOKYO - Global shares sagged Tuesday as oil prices gave up overnight gains and China reported sharply lower trade figures for February.

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A weaker dollar weighed on Japanese stocks following the release of revised data showing Japan's economy contracted in October-December.

KEEPING SCORE: France's CAC 40 lost 1.5 per cent in early trading to 4,376.63, and Germany's DAX was also down 1.5 per cent to 9,632.29. Britain's FTSE 100 edged down 0.9 per cent to 6,129.66. U.S. shares also were set to head lower, with Dow futures down 0.6 and S&P 500 futures down 0.7 per cent.

CHINA TRADE: China's exports plunged 25.4 per cent in February from a year earlier, as weak global demand and a business shutdown during the Lunar New Year holiday combined to depress sales. Customs data reported Tuesday showed imports fell 13.8 per cent.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "The figures (as expected) were terrible," Even Lucas of IG said of the China trade data. "Chinese lunar new year always skews the February numbers; however, the figure is much lower than expected and such a big miss has created some angst," he wrote in a commentary.

JAPAN DATA: Revised data showed Japan's GDP contracted at a 1.1 per cent annualized pace in the last quarter, compared to a 1.4 per cent expansion in the July-September quarter. It was a modest improvement over the previous estimate of a 1.4 per cent contraction in October-December.

COMMODITIES: Investors appeared skeptical over Monday's rally in oil, iron ore and other commodities, analysts said. Prices fell back slightly during Asian trading after a 5.5 per cent jump in U.S. crude prices overnight.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dropped 0.8 per cent to 16,783.15 and South Korea's Kospi lost 0.6 per cent to 1,946.12. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index shed 0.7 per cent to 20,011.58, while the Shanghai Composite inched up 0.1, regaining earlier losses, to 2,901.39. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.7 per cent to 5,108.00, and other regional stocks also declined.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 25 cents to $37.65 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It jumped $1.98 on Monday to $37.90 a barrel. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 8 cents to $40.77 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The euro was little changed at $1.1031, up from $1.1013. The dollar edged down to 112.93 yen from 113.27 yen.



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