Asian stocks hit as China economy fears persist

Nikkei Image copyright Getty Images

Shares in China and Japan led losses in Asian markets, as investors continued to react to the poor trading figures released by China on Tuesday.

Japan's Nikkei 225 lost as much as 1.5% in early trading, and closed down 0.8% at 16,642.20.

China's Shanghai Composite finished 1.3% lower at 2,862.56.

Falling oil prices also hit the markets. On Tuesday, US crude more than 4% and Brent crude dropped 3%, although prices stabilised in Asian trade.

"Although oil prices have risen sharply from the trough, many investors are not yet convinced if things have improved that much, and I suspect they judged now is a good time to sell," PineBridge Investments' Tatsushi Maeno told Reuters.

Trade figures from Beijing released on Tuesday showed that Chinese exports suffered their sharpest drop in almost seven years, adding to concerns over the health of the world's second largest economy. Exports sank by 25.4% from a year earlier, while imports fell 13.8%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed flat at 19,996.26 points.

Elsewhere, Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 spent much of the day in positive territory and finished the session up nearly 1% at 5,157.20.

Shares in some of the country's big lenders helped to lift the market. Commonwealth Bank shares finished up more than 1% and Westpac rose 2.3%.

In South Korea, the Kospi index closed up 0.35% at 1,952.95.

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