Asian Stocks Still In The Doldrums; China Data Looms

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Asian stocks found a tentative footing early on Thursday, having suffered their biggest one-day slide in a month, though investors were nervous ahead of a slew of Chinese data as a troubling slowdown in the world's second-largest economy has rattled global markets recently.

Passersby walk past an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei movements outside a brokerage in Tokyo

* Asian stocks volatile ahead of China trade data

* BOJ also in focus, seen maintaining massive stimulus

* Aussie dollar waiting for local employment data

Asian stocks found a tentative footing early on Thursday, having suffered their biggest one-day slide in a month, though investors were nervous ahead of a slew of Chinese data as a troubling slowdown in the world's second-largest economy has rattled global markets recently.

The lacklustre start in the region came on the back of a third day of losses on Wall Street as uncertainty over when the Federal Reserve will begin to wind down its stimulus kept buyers at bay.

The focus now turns to China's trade data later in the day after a surprise fall in exports in June heightened fears of a sharp slowdown in Asia's economic powerhouse.

Another weak outcome is likely to hit risk appetite. The trade numbers will be followed by inflation, industrial output and retail sales on Friday.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan crept up 0.3 percent, following Wednesday's 1.3 percent slide. Tokyo's Nikkei climbed 0.6 percent, but remained shaky after a 4.0 percent dive in the previous session.

"The market mood is gloomy," said Kenichi Hirano, operating officer at Tachibana Securities. "Investors are wondering where the Nikkei stops falling. They will be nervously watching the currency moves."

Markets are also waiting for the outcome of the Bank of Japan policy meeting due from 0300 GMT.

The BOJ is expected to maintain its massive monetary stimulus and may also revise up its assessment of the economy, although worries about Chinese growth may see the central bank hold back on any revision.

No surprises from the BOJ could see the yen extend gains on the dollar, which has come under broad pressure in recent sessions.

The dollar skidded below 97 yen for the first time in six weeks on Wednesday and traded around 96.77 early on Thursday. CitiFX analysts said a move back below 94.00 would not be a stretch.

The euro, meanwhile, stood at $1.3332 not far from a seven-week high of $1.3347 scaled overnight. The Australian dollar was flirting with one-week highs near 90 U.S. cents .

The Aussie's immediate fortunes hinge on local jobs data due at 0130 GMT and Chinese trade data later. Any upside surprises in employment could give the Aussie a boost.

Sterling was the standout currency, rallying nearly 1 percent to $1.5534, a high not seen since mid-June.

The move came even after the Bank of England said it would not raise interest rates until unemployment fell to 7 percent, from 7.8 percent in June, which it said could take three years.

"The markets' view of the MPC's guidance seems to be that although it might have clarified some aspects of the policy outlook, it is also relatively "soft" because the accompanying provisos give plenty of room for policy to deviate from the indicated path," analysts at Barclays Capital wrote in a note.

Caution ahead of the Chinese data kept a lid on copper , which at $7,013 a tonne was well within its prevailing $6,800-$7,100 range.

Gold was a touch softer at $1,285 an ounce, hovering just above a three-week trough of $1.272.64 set on Wednesday.

U.S. crude was pinned at one-week lows near $104 a barrel, pressured by an expected increase in North Sea crude output next month.

South Korea's central bank will also announce the outcome of its rate review this morning, although analysts polled by Reuters see the Bank of Korea keeping rates on hold for a third month. The decision is due around 0100 GMT.

Several financial markets in South East Asia including Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are closed for a holiday marking the end of the Ramadan fasting season. India and the Philippines will shut on Friday for the same occasion.

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