Chinese exports fell at their fastest rate in three years last month as fears grow about the world’s second largest economy.
The US-China trade war sent exports to a 20.7 per cent year-on-year drop, official data revealed, as imports fell 5.2 per cent.
Markets reacted badly, with Asian stocks falling sharply this morning in their worst session since October.
The Shanghai Composite fell 4.4 per cent, while the smaller cap Shenzhen Composite fell 3.79 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 1.9 per cent, and Japan’s Nikkei fell 2.01 per cent.
However, economists noted that the data could have been affected by the Lunar New Year holiday, and so may not be entirely accurate.
Still, the plunge in exports was around four times as bad as a Reuters prediction of a 4.7 per cent drop.
“This has stoked the fires of global economic growth worry following a very dovish, downbeat ECB policy update yesterday that saw equities resume their slide,” warned Mike van Dulken and Artjom Hatsaturjants at spreadbetter Accendo Markets.
Read more: WTO warns of weakest global trade since 2010
While the US and China appear to be making progress on drawing their trade war to a close, it has hit the global economy, with the World Trade Organization blaming the spat for its weakest global outlook in nine years.
If the countries fail to reach a deal, tariffs will rise to 25 per cent on $200bn (£152bn) of Chinese goods.