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Markets flat as Chinese trade data disappoints

Markets began the week in uninspiring fashion as major European indices struggled for direction at the open. Asian stocks were lower following data over the weekend that showed China’s trade deficit was $31.48 billion in February, with exports sharply lower amid Europe’s weak economy. It helped stoke fears of a slowdown in China, the world’s second largest economy, which recently announced that it was targeting growth of 7.5% in 2012 (following years of 8% plus GDP growth). The news ensured that mining stocks and others linked to China’s economy were weaker with the buying of equities focused on the more defensive sectors.

In other economic news, Italy confirmed it was in recession with GDP falling 0.7% in the final quarter of 2011, down 0.4% on a year on year basis. Spain warned the EU that its budget deficit would be 5.8% for 2012, greater than the 4.4% that was the initial target. It was evident that this, as well as the final sign off of the second Greek bailout package (following the PSI agreement late last week), would be on the agenda at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels today.

Having spent most of the day in the red, the FTSE 100 made several short advances into positive territory before ending around the highs of the day at 5891, a negligible 0.06% gain.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by James .

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