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London — World stock markets stumbled and commodities took a hit on Monday after a shock contraction in Chinese trade pointed to deepening cracks in the world’s second-biggest economy and sparked fresh fears of a sharper slowdown in global growth. Latest data from China showed imports fell 7.6% year on year in December when analysts had predicted a 5% rise, while exports dropped 4.4%, confounding the expectation for a 3% gain. The data reinforced fears US tariffs on Chinese goods were starting to hit China’s cooling economy, while softening demand has been felt around the world with sales of goods ranging from iPhones to cars slowing, prompting profit warnings from the likes of Apple and Jaguar Land Rover. The index of Europe’s leading 300 shares slipped 0.7% in early trade to 1,365 points. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC fell about 0.6%, with shares in European luxury goods companies and the automotive sector suffering some of the biggest declines. “We believe trade growth next year...

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