October 30, 2018 / 7:41 AM / 19 days ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares bounce in choppy trade, trade war worries remain

(Adds European stocks, updates levels throughout)

* U.S. plans more China tariffs if Trump-Xi meeting fails -report

* Asian shares edgy, on track for worst Oct since 2008

* Euro hurt by Merkel, dollar helped by Trump’s China deal comment

* Spreadbetters see European shares opening flat to higher

By Tomo Uetake

TOKYO, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Asian shares clawed back earlier losses on Tuesday as China made a fresh attempt to stabilise its stock markets although activity was choppy with investors cautious about further escalations in the Sino-U.S. trade war.

Financial spreadbetters expect London’s FTSE to open almost flat, Frankfurt’s DAX to rise 0.1 percent, and Paris’s CAC to add 0.3 percent.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan swung in and out of negative territory in morning trade and last traded 0.3 percent higher on the day.

The index has lost 12 percent this month and is on track for its biggest October decline since 2008, during the global financial crisis.

“At this point, nobody can say the equity market is bottoming out. Global investor sentiment remains shaky,” said Yasuo Sakuma, chief investment officer at Libra Investments in Tokyo.

Mainland China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite and the blue-chip CSI 300 gained to 1.0 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively, winning back earlier losses in a volatile session.

China’s securities regulator said it would encourage share buybacks and mergers and acquisitions by listed firms, and would enhance market liquidity, in the latest attempt to put a floor under the country’s skidding equity markets.

Japan’s Nikkei average also erased early losses and climbed 1.5 percent. Traders said investors were looking for bargains among beaten-down stocks.

Other market participants said market sentiment found some support from comments by U.S. President Donald Trump suggesting the possibility of “a great deal” with China on trade.

Major U.S. indexes fell sharply on Monday after a Bloomberg report that the United States is preparing to announce tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports by early December if talks next month between presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping falter.

Trump had raised the possibility of such a move previously, but had not indicated a timeframe.

The CBOE Global Markets volatility index, known as Wall Street’s “fear gauge”, jumped to as much as 27.86 points, its highest since Oct. 11 and the second highest since the volatility shock of early February.

“The probability of global stocks turning to a bear market is increasing,” said Masanari Takada, cross-assets strategist at Nomura Securities.

“While some investors who look at fundamentals buy stocks on dips, there are other players who keep selling automatically in response to heightened volatility. At times like this, buyers can easily be overwhelmed by negative headlines on tariffs, etc.”

Adding to the jitters, China’s yuan continued to weaken, drawing closer to a closely watched support level.

In onshore trade, the yuan slipped 0.15 percent to 6.9724 per dollar, a more than 10-year low, stirring speculation over whether the central bank will tolerate a slide beyond the key level of 7 per dollar.

Major state-owned Chinese banks were seen swapping yuan for dollars in forwards on Tuesday, but there was no immediate evidence of dollar selling in the spot market as the currency neared a key support level, three traders said.

The dollar index against a basket of six major peers inched higher and was just below its 10-week high it hit on Friday. The index gained on a decline in the euro after news German Chancellor Angela Merkel would not seek re-election as head of her CDU party.

Merkel said she would not seek re-election as party chairwoman, heralding the end of a 13-year era in which she has dominated European politics.

Oil prices were mixed after easing overnight as Russia signalled that output will remain high and as concern over the global economy fuelled worries about demand for crude.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures edged up 0.1 percent to $67.13 per barrel, while Brent crude futures dipped 0.3 percent to $77.13.

Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Additional reporting by Winni Zhou and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Sam Holmes and Kim Coghill

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