European stocks hit by data signaling Chinese weakness


AFP

HONG KONG/LONDON — Europe’s main stock markets mostly fell Monday as investors examined poor Chinese trade data that signaled fresh weakness in the world’s second biggest economy, dealers said. In late morning trade, London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index fell 0.44 percent to 7,059.10 points, with the mining sector hit hard by the weak numbers.

In the eurozone, the CAC-40 in Paris slid 0.03 percent to 5,238.9 points, while Frankfurt’s DAX 30 added 0.02 percent to 12,377 points.

China’s customs administration said exports fell by a surprising 15 percent year-on-year in March, while imports tumbled 12.7 percent. The news weighed on the mining and resources sector in Europe, because China is a major consumer of many raw materials. In London, BHP Billiton’s share price tumbled 2.77 percent to 1,423 pence, leading the fallers on the FTSE 100 index. Anglo American dived 1.81 percent to 1,003.5 pence, Antofagasta dropped 2.54 percent to 996 pence and Rio Tinto shed 1.57 percent to 2,792.5 pence. ��Beijing’s brutal trade figures have sparked a sell-off in the mineral-related stocks, and the overnight announcement from China has set the pace for the growth figures that are due out later this week,�� said IG analyst David Madden. ��The collapse in China’s trade balance on the month was so dramatic it left some traders wondering whether the figures were accurate, and other dealers viewed the dreadful numbers as a sign for further stimulus.�� Before the weekend, European equities hit record highs on Friday as a weaker single currency boosted companies’ exports from the eurozone, dealers said. Across in Asia, however, markets mostly rose as the data stoked hopes for fresh easing measures in China. Asia Shares Mostly Up, China Data Spurs Shanghai Rally Asian markets mostly climbed Monday, with Hong Kong advancing for an eighth straight session and Shanghai rallying after more disappointing Chinese data fueled hopes for fresh easing measures. Wall Street provided another strong lead Friday, boosted by a string of merger announcements last week and a huge asset sale by General Electric (GE). Shanghai surged 2.17 percent, or 87.41 points, to 4,121.71 while Hong Kong climbed 2.73 percent, or 743.95 points, to 28,016.34 on the second highest turnover ever. Seoul gained 0.53 percent, or 11.16 points, to end at 2,098.92. Tokyo ended marginally lower, dipping 2.17 points to 19,905.46, while Sydney eased 0.14 percent, or 8.1 points, to close at 5,960.3. The latest China figures show the world’s number two economy continues to struggle. However, they will also reinforce investors’ expectations that authorities will unveil a new round of growth-fueling policies. Those expectations have powered a rally in Shanghai shares to seven-year highs over the past 12 months, and mainlanders are heading to Hong Kong for what they consider cheap equities. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) has now climbed more than 13 percent over the past eight sessions.