Exports from China fell by 18% in February, dashing hopes that trade will help boost its performance at a time when the country’s leadership is pursuing reforms.

The weekend update meant Japan’s Nikkei was down by more than 1% and though the FTSE 100 initially resisted being pulled down it also closed in the red, down 23.2 points to 6689.4.

It added to a 75-point drop on Friday in the wake of better-than-expected jobs data from America, fuelling expectations that the US Federal Reserve would hasten the end of its quantitative easing policy pumping billions into the economy every month.

But it was the Chinese data that was weighing on investors’ minds at the start of this week, leaving mining stocks on the back foot. Fresnillo fell 31.5p to 896p while Glencore Xstrata dropped 7.8p to 317p and Antofagasta was off 18.5p at 858.5p.

European equities saw a mixed picture. In Germany- exposed to the volatility in Ukraine due to the sourcing of its natural gas imports – the Dax dropped by nearly 1%. But France’s Cac 40 held firm with a small rise.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was in negative territory.

In London, house building stocks were under pressure after Bank of England deputy governor Charlie Bean said policy makers were keeping a “beady eye” on the surging property market.

He warned that a lack of supply combined with excessive growth in mortgage lending could create future financial stability risks.

The warning saw shares in Persimmon top the FTSE 100 fallers’ board, dipping by nearly 5%, or 64p, to 1329p. On the FTSE 250, Barratt was off 18p at 430.3p and Bovis Homes fell 32p to 880.5p.

The anxiety also weighed on pound, off one cent against the greenback at 1.66 US dollars, and down a cent against the single currency at 1.20 euros.

Mobile phone giant Vodafone was another big faller as it continued to be linked to a possible deal worth 7 billion euros (£5.8 billion) to buy Spain’s Ono. Shares fell 8.6p to 230.1p

Banks were also under pressure, with Royal Bank of Scotland off 6.9p at 319.8p and Barclays down 6.4p at 242p.

Rolls-Royce delivered the biggest rise in the FTSE 100 Index as investors got their first chance to react to Friday’s news that the engine giant is to buy Daimler’s stake in a power controls joint venture formerly known as Tognum.

Germany’s Daimler has exercised its right to sell its 50% shareholding, which is said to be worth about £1.9 billion. The pair acquired the business through a joint venture set up in 2011. Rolls-Royce shares climbed nearly 2%, or 17p, to 1043p.

The biggest FTSE 100 risers were Rolls-Royce, up 17p to 1043p, British American Tobacco up 50.5p to 3340.5p, Bunzl up 23p to 1597p and GlaxoSmithKline up 19p to 1672.5p.

The biggest fallers were Persimmon down 64p to 1329p, Vodafone down 8.6p to 230.1p, Petrofac down 48p to 1357p and Fresnillo down 31.5p to 896p.