World stocks, copper and oil hit by weak China exports

Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:38pm EDT
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By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - World stock indexes fell and the prices of copper and oil sank on Monday after surprisingly weak Chinese trade data added to worries about a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

China's exports unexpectedly tumbled in February, falling 18.1 percent from a year earlier and swinging the trade balance into deficit. The data underscored recent concerns about the outlook for China's economy, even though the Lunar New Year holidays were blamed for the slide.

The data put a dampener on risk sentiment, which had been boosted briefly by Friday's stronger-than-expected U.S. non-farm payrolls report.

"The weak China trade balance data caused some flight to quality on less optimism about the global economy," said Jeffrey Young, interest rate strategist at Nomura in New York.

Prices on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries were last up 3/32 to yield 2.78 percent

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 63.71 points or 0.39 percent, to 16,389.01, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 4.44 points or 0.24 percent, to 1,873.6 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 9.796 points or 0.23 percent, to 4,326.427.

Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX.N: Quote) lost 3.3 percent to $31.12 as the signs of a slowing Chinese economy sent London copper to an eight-month low. The S&P materials index .SPLRCM lost 0.4 percent

Despite weakness in Asian markets, a sense of relief in Europe that tensions between Russia and the West over Crimea had not escalated buoyed shares in early trading, though there was no escape from the undercurrent of unease.   Continued...

Pedestrians walk past an electronic board showing various stock prices, which are reflected in a polished stone surface, outside a brokerage in Tokyo January 24, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino