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Stocks Slide as Oil Weighs on Markets Again

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Falling oil prices stole the market's attention again on Tuesday after more signs of a slowdown in China spooked commodity traders.

So stocks had an unpredictable day as benchmark indexes struggled to hold gains through the morning, before slumping in the afternoon session.

The S&P 500 was down 0.68%, and the Nasdaq declined 0.87%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.29%, snapping a seven-session winning streak.

Chinese imports and exports slumped in September, the second straight month of negative growth. Imports fell 20.4% year over year, a steeper decline than an expected 15% drop. Exports slid 3.7% compared to an expected 6.3% gain. The steep decline in imports created a trade surplus of $60.34 billion.

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Fears over China, the world's second-largest consumer of oil, put a damper on crude oil prices. West Texas Intermediate closed 0.9% lower at $46.66 a barrel after a 5% decline a day earlier. The commodity had surged around 8% over the previous week on signs of slowing domestic production.

"China is one of the biggest consumers of commodities and a drop in imports would directly affect the demand," Daniel Ang, investment analyst at Phillip Capital, wrote in a report...