Shares in Europe and the US slumped lower on Monday, with Britain's FTSE 100 reversing earlier gains as investors fretted about weak export growth in China.
The UK blue chip index lurched from a high of 6,757 all the way down to 6,671, while the US S&P 500 and Europe's STOXX 50 list of eurozone blue chips both fell around 0.6%, with all the ingredients in place for investors to push shares towards a third consecutive week lower.
China reported that exports sank 18% in February, while net new bank lending in the world’s second largest economy more than halved last month.
There was more sentiment-sapping news from Asia as Japan’s fourth quarter GDP was revised down from a preliminary estimate of 1.0% to 0.7%.
All of that comes after Friday’s report showing that 175,000 new jobs were created in the US in February, more than expected. The US labour market strength came despite the cold snap and snowstorms and was seen as supporting Federal Reserve's current pace of stimulus 'tapering'.
Meanwhile, Russia has tightened its control over Crimea as intentional leaders continue in their attempts to convince president Vladimir Putin to pull back from the region.
Amid all of the bad news, emerging markets shares were particularly hard hit, with the MSCI Emerging Markets index down 1.3%. Asian shares had fallen sharply overnight.
Signs of a slowdown in China were also enough to knock the price of oil, with Brent crude futures trading down 0.6% at $108.04 per barrel.
In London, the weak data saw mining shares fell, with Fresnillo, Anglo American and Glencore Xstrata all off around 3%. At the other end of the index, Rolls Royce pared back earlier gains to trade up nearly 1% at £10.34 after Daimler AG on Friday evening announced its intention to sell its 50% stake in Rolls-Royce Power Systems to Rolls-Royce, exercising a put option.
The British pound fell 0.5% to $1.6626 as Bank of England deputy governor Charlie Bean talked the currency down, saying any further sterling appreciation 'would not be particularly helpful in terms of facilitating a rebalancing towards net exports.'