* Decline in Chinese exports drives down commodity
* Copper hits eight-month low
* Mining stocks hit by Chinese trade data
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, March 10 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
"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 fell 63.71 points or
0.39 percent, to 16,389.01, the S&P 500 lost 4.44 points
or 0.24 percent, to 1,873.6 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 9.796 points or 0.23 percent, to 4,326.427.
Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold 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
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.
European shares were down 0.4 percent, hit by
declines in shares of mining companies sensitive to China's
ferocious appetite for raw materials. A global stock index
was down 0.5 percent and an emerging market
stock index was down 1.2 percent.
"Any poor news from China is always going to hit short-term
market sentiment, especially in the mining sector, and fears of
slower growth will hit base metals," said IPR Capital director
German steel maker ThyssenKrupp, down 3.1 percent,
was among the top losers in Europe as Chinese steel and iron ore
futures slumped to their lowest levels ever on concerns about a
slowdown in China, the world's top commodity buyer.
China's CSI300 share index plunged 3.3 percent to
its lowest level in nearly nine months.
Chinese gloom added to the strain in emerging markets,
compounding worries that the U.S. Federal Reserve's reduction in
stimulus will greatly curb the flow of money,
The dollar held steady against major currencies, supported
by hopes that U.S. job growth would pick up in the wake of last
week's mildly encouraging report on hiring. The dollar index
was little changed at 79.743.
The commodity-sensitive Australian and Canadian dollars
also suffered, both losing as much as half a
percent against the greenback in the wake of the plunge in
exports from China. The Aussie traded 0.4 percent lower at
$0.9031, while the loonie was down 0.2 percent
London copper hit an eight-month low. Three-month copper on
the London Metal Exchange CMCU3 traded down 1.36 percent to
$6,690 a tonne in official midday rings. It earlier slid as low
as $6,608 a tonne, its weakest level since June 25 and within a
whisker off nearly three-year lows.
Brent crude was trading 97 cents down at $108.03.
U.S. oil fell $1.33 to $101.25 a barrel.