European equities ended lower on Tuesday, after trade data out of China hit European miners hard and oil prices fell sharply during the session.
China trade data weighs
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index finished some 1 percent lower provisionally, with all sectors closing in negative territory. London's FTSE, France's CAC and Germany's DAX all ended trade in the red, off some 0.9 percent each.
Earlier, China's trade data showed that exports fell 25.4 percent in February in U.S. dollar terms, while imports fell 13.8 percent, with both declines wider than expectations. The decline in exports was the largest on-year drop since 2009, according to Reuters.
Basic resources took the biggest hit with the sector closing down 9.3 percent. Miners were feeling the pressure following the weak trade data, with several industrial metals prices such as copper, nickel and aluminum seeing a sharp drop. Nickel fell over 7 percent on Tuesday.
Mining companies Glencore and Anglo American were the worst performers on London's FTSE 100 index, closing down over 18 and 15 percent respectively. Fellow miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton were not far behind, both tumbling 8.5 percent or more each.
The basic resources sector had its worst day since December 1, 2008. However, the index has seen a 25 percent run-up and a 7-day winning streak.
Oil in focus
The decline in market confidence comes just as oil prices appeared to be showing signs of recovery this week.
In early trade, international benchmark Brent crude was trading over $41 a barrel after jumping to 2016 highs the previous day as producers announced talks to support the market and investors opened new bullish bets, Reuters reported. However, in afternoon trade, prices reversed as OPEC member, Kuwait said it would only agree to an output freeze if all major producers take part.
At the close, prices slipped 2 percent or more in both Brent and U.S. WTI, last standing at $40.07 and $36.98 respectively, while the oil and gas sector closed down 2.5 percent, with stocks tumbling, like Tullow Oil and Seadrill, both off more than 7 percent.
Saipem however sat at the bottom of the sector, closing 14.8 percent down after two banks that guaranteed a recent stock issue at the Italian oil services group sold a 6 percent stake at a discount on Monday, according to Reuters.
Burberry soars; mixed earnings
The best performer on the FTSE was luxury fashion brand Burberry, finishing up 6.6 percent on news that a mystery investor has built up a stake of close to 5 percent in the group, prompting the brand to seek help from its financial advisers to defend it against any potential takeover bid, the Financial Timesreported.
Deutsche Post was another top European performer, ending 3.2 percent, after the company announced it would spend up to 1 billion euros on buying back its own shares.
Shares of RWE slipped 4.4 percent. This comes as RWE said it hoped it would overcome a crisis at its British unit npower by 2018, its chief executive, Peter Terium said in a speech on Tuesday, after the business swung to an operating loss in the past financial year.
"What happened there (in Britain) was a disaster," Peter Terium said in a speech, pointing to a rapid loss of customers and billing issues that drove npower into the red. "We hope to be out of the valley of tears in the UK by 2018."
Swiss chocolate maker, Lindt closed almost 1 percent down, despite the company's full year net income coming in just above forecasts, rising 11.2 percent, and raising its dividend.
Paddy Power was also sharply lower, off 2 percent despite posting a rise in its earnings for 2015.