Stocks in Asia tumble; China leads losses after trade data disappoints

Stocks in major Asian stock markets closed lower on Friday as investors grappled with fresh concerns over the state of the global economy, with .

Mainland Chinese shares cratered on the day, with the falling 4.4 percent to close at 2,969.86 and the Shenzhen component slipping 3.248 percent to finish at 9,363.72. The Shenzhen composite shed 3.791 percent to close at 1,605.28.

Hong Kong‘s declined more than 1.8 percent in its final hour of trading.

Chinese customs data on Friday showed that from a year ago, missing a 4.8 percent decline that economists polled by Reuters had expected.

Dollar-denominated imports fell 5.2 percent in February from a year ago, missing economists‘ forecast of a 1.4 percent fall.

Analysts, however, say data from China in the first two months of the year must be treated with caution due to business distortions caused by the timing of the week-long Lunar New Year public holiday which started on Feb. 4 this year.

“A 20-percent decline is a big number. I think the market is clearly disappointed by this,” Sarah Lien, a director and client portfolio manager at Eastspring Investments (Singapore), told CNBC‘s “Capital Connection” on Friday. “But to put things into perspective, I think we‘ve been talking about a global growth slowdown and a China slowdown for a long time now, so it‘s not completely unexpected to see a negative number.”

Lien added that Eastspring remained “very bullish” on China, and the country‘s long-term outlook looked constructive. In particular, she pointed to China‘s “hugely growing” domestic market, where there was “plenty of opportunity” for investors.