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Global stocks lower as China concerns deepen

SEOUL, South Korea - Global stock markets were lower Tuesday as Chinese trade data showed a larger-than-expected slide in imports, deepening concerns about a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

Europe opened sharply lower with Britain's FTSE 100 down 0.8 percent at 6,318.62 and Germany's DAX sliding 1.4 percent to 9,982.98. France's CAC 40 dropped 1.7 percent to 4,610.78.

Wall Street appeared set for losses with S&P 500 and Dow futures both down 0.4 percent.

Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.1 percent to 18,234.74 and South Korea's Kospi was down 0.1 percent at 2,019.05. China's Shanghai composite index finished 0.2 percent higher at 3,293.23 after trading lower, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index shed 0.6 percent to 22,600.46. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.6 percent to 5,202.90. Stocks in Southeast Asia were also lower.

China's September imports fell by an unexpectedly wide margin of 20.4 percent from a year ago in a new sign of weakness in the world's second-largest economy, while exports also contracted, although by less than predicted. Customs data released Tuesday showed Chinese purchases of foreign goods worsened from August's 5.5 percent decline, evidence of anemic demand despite repeated stimulus efforts aimed at reversing a decline in economic growth. Sales of Chinese goods to foreign markets fell 3.7 percent, an improvement from the previous month's 13.8 percent contraction.

"Markets and currencies started to weaken from the open as nervousness about the Chinese trade data was heavy in the air," said Angus Nicholson, a market analyst at IG. "It was basically a fairly mixed report, but with last week's impressive rally starting to look stretched, mixed Chinese data was taken as bad Chinese data."

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 29 cents to $46.80 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Monday, the contract dropped $2.53 to close at $47.10 a barrel after a report showed that OPEC members are keeping up production even after a big drop in prices. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 22 cents to $50.02 per barrel in London.

The euro strengthened to $1.138 from $1.136, while the dollar weakened to 119.72 yen from 120.04 yen.

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