US equities fell sharply on Tuesday after gloomy data from China reignited concerns about the global economy, causing the S&P 500 to snap a five-day winning streak.

China’s imports and exports both tumbled in February, an indication that external and domestic demand in Asia’s biggest economy is continuing to falter. That weighed on bourses across the globe, with European stocks shedding one per cent and emerging markets shedding 0.9 per cent.

Oil prices also faced heavy selling, with US crude dropping 4.3 per cent to $36.27 a barrel, and Brent crude falling 3.4 per cent to $39.45 a barrel.

The energy sector was by far the biggest laggard on the day, tumbling 4.1 per cent on the back of the oil price decline. Materials, financials and healthcare also faced heavy selling. Utilities and consumer staples, both defensive sectors, performed the best.

The decline in risky assets represented a turn in direction from the increasing confidence investors have shown in the economy that has helped US stocks trim heavy losses notched earlier this year.

In a sign of the reversal, the yield on the benchmark US 10-year Treasury note fell 7.9 basis points on Tuesday to 1.83 per cent as traders bid-up the haven asset.

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