The Australian stockmarket closed over 0.9 per cent lower after the iron ore price fell and Chinese data printed weaker than expected, hitting the resources sector.
At 4.15pm (AEDT), the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 0.93 per cent lower at 5,411.5 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index fell 0.84 per cent to 5,430.8 points.
Official data released this weekend showed China posted an unexpected trade deficit of $US22.98 billion ($A25.32bn) in February, compared with a $US148.bn surplus in the same month last year.
The iron ore price fell to $US114.20 at the close of last week, down 2.3 per cent from the previous day.
IG market strategist Stan Shamu said the fall in iron ore has rocked confidence in Asia.
"Today was the first chance investors had to react to China data released over the weekend which exposed volatility in China’s export growth yet again," Mr Shamu said.
"The selling actually accelerated as soon as Chinese markets came on line with sharp drops for the Shanghai Composite and Hang Seng.
"Pure iron ore plays are the worst hit, with sharp drops for the likes of Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals."
Materials were mostly lower as the iron ore price dropped and China posted an unexpected trade deficit.
Whitehaven Coal shed 5.11 per cent to $1.765.
Oil Search retreated 0.56 per cent to $8.84.
Financials were also weaker.
Investment bank Macquarie Group shed 0.42 per cent to $56.60.
The retail sector was mostly higher.
21st Century Fox gave up 0.65 per cent to $36.51.
Southern Cross Media added 2.13 per cent to $1.44.
Leighton soared 11.44 per cent to $23.09 after majority shareholder Hochtief launched a bid to lift its holding.