Asian shares down on weaker-than-expected China import data

<p>The figures showed a slide of 20.4 per cent from a year ago.</p>

Asian shares dipped today (October 13th) after the release of weak Chinese trade data.

Although investors were expecting the country's imports to fall last month, the figures showed a larger-than-expected slide of 20.4 per cent from a year ago, fuelling worries about the health of the world's second-largest economy. 

However, exports contracted less than expected. Chinese goods to foreign markets fell 3.7 per cent, up from August's 13.8 per cent contraction.

"Exports in September look a little better than expectations," HSBC economist Ma Xiaoping told the Wall Street Journal, adding that year-end trade figures tend to pick up due to Christmas shipments. "But if you factor in seasonal factors, I don’t see much improvement in global demand," she added.

Japan's Nikkei 225 dipped 1.1 per cent to 18,234.74 and South Korea's Kospi edged down 0.1 per cent to 2,019.05. China's Shanghai composite index slid 0.1 per cent to 3,285.01, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 0.4 per cent to 22,638.05 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.6 per cent to 5,202.90.

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