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World markets tick lower on Tuesday

TOKYO - Global stocks slipped on Tuesday amid renewed concern about China, which reported sharply weaker trade figures for February. The price of oil and other commodities stabilized after strong gains the day before.

At around 8:20 a.m. Eastern, in Europe trading France's CAC 40 lost 0.4 percent to 4,4124, and Germany's DAX shed 0.3 percent to 9,752. Britain's FTSE 100 edged 0.3 percent lower to 6,161. U.S. shares also were set to head lower, with Dow futures down 0.3 percent and S&P 500 futures down 0.4 percent.

China's exports plunged 25.4 percent in February from a year earlier, as weak global demand and a business shutdown during the Lunar New Year holiday combined to depress sales. Customs data reported Tuesday showed imports fell 13.8 percent.

The figures (as expected) were terrible," Even Lucas of IG said of the China trade data. "Chinese lunar new year always skews the February numbers; however, the figure is much lower than expected, and such a big miss has created some angst," he wrote in a commentary.

Investors appeared cautious that a recent rally in oil, iron ore and other commodities can be sustained, analysts said. Still, benchmark U.S. crude rose 33 cents to $38.226 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It jumped $1.98 on Monday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oil, also lifted a bit, rising 5 cents to $40.89 a barrel.

Earlier, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dropped 0.8 percent to 16,783, and South Korea's Kospi lost 0.6 percent to 1,946. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index shed 0.7 percent to 20,012, while the Shanghai Composite inched up 0.1, regaining earlier losses, to 2,901. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.7 percent to 5,108, and other regional stocks also declined.

The euro was little changed at $1.1021, up from $1.1013. The dollar edged down to 113.06 yen from 113.27 yen.

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