China unease weighs on stocks, lifts yen
A sharp sell-off in Chinese shares dragged world stock markets lower and boosted the safehaven yen on Wednesday amid renewed concerns about the outlook for China's economy. Tuesday's weak Chinese trade figures and slide in oil prices have revived global growth concerns and prompted investors to push the pause button on a rally in global stocks.
European shares .FTEU3 opened higher but held below recent one-month highs, while risk aversion lifted the Japanese yen against the dollar JPY= and the euro EURJPY=.
In Asia, Chinese shares .SSEC .CSI300 closed more than 1 percent lower, while MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 0.3 percent, down 1.4 percent from a two-month high hit on Monday.
Japan's Nikkei .N225 ended the day down 0.8 percent, its lowest close in a week.
"Investors are once again focused towards the scanty economic data over in China and the anxiety is if the People's Bank of China has the right tools to help the recovery," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at AvaTrade. China's February trade performance was far worse than economists had expected, with exports tumbling the most in over six years.
Exports dived 25.4 percent from a year earlier on depressed demand in all of China's major markets, while imports slumped 13.8 percent, the 16th straight month of decline.
The overnight sharp slide in oil also proved worrisome for investors although crude prices were on firmer ground in early Wednesday trade. Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 hit a high of $39.97 per barrel around 0700 GMT before dipping back to $39.92, still up 27 cents from their last close and over 40 percent higher than the 2016 lows hit in January.
U.S. crude futures CLc1 were at $36.70 per barrel, up 20 cents from their last settlement and also over 40 percent above February's 2016 low.