* World stocks inch down, keep highs in sight
* U.S.-China trade talks continue to hog spotlight
* USD off 2-week highs vs yen, US stock futures tad weaker
* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh (Updates with drift lower in world shares)
By Dhara Ranasinghe
LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters) - World stocks edged off their highest in almost two years on Tuesday, but kept record levels in sight, following fresh signs that the United States and China were working to end a trade war dragging on the global economy.
China’s Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin held a phone call on issues related to a phase one trade agreement on Tuesday, China said.
This, alongside a strong Hong Kong debut for Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in the world’s largest share sale this year, boosted markets in Asia .
MSCI’s 49-country main world share index, touched its highest level in almost two years, before drifting lower as the European session wore on. Still, it remained less than 1% off record highs hit in early 2018.
European stocks, with the exception of London’s FTSE , were broadly lower and U.S. equity futures also inched down as a note of caution returned after a strong rally fuelled by trade talk hopes.
The pan-European STOXX 600 remained within striking distance of four-year highs.
“The outlook is positive as world trade angst is the biggest negative out there, especially when you throw in loose policy, the pick-up yields for equities versus bonds and the like,” said Chris Bailey, European strategist at Raymond James in London.
“However, the residual issues are clear: The first is a reversal in world trade optimism, the second is that valuations become perceived as overstretched - this can easily happen given lacklustre corporate earnings growth.”
In Asia, Alibaba shares opened almost 7% higher in Hong Kong than their issue price and at a small premium to pricing in New York. The listing has been seen as a vote of confidence in Hong Kong after months of anti-government protests that have rocked the financial hub.
A flurry of major acquisition activity has also supported sentiment in equity markets, with France’s LVMH agreeing to buy U.S. jeweller Tiffany for $16.2 billion and Charles Schwab Corp set to purchase U.S. discount brokerage TD Ameritrade Holding Corp in an all-stock deal valued at $26 billion.
Still, it was the outcome of U.S.-China trade talks that remained the key driver for world markets.
The U.S. dollar gave up earlier gains as some of the optimism over an agreement faded, slipping from a two-week high of 109.205 yen hit during Asian trade.
The euro was also a touch firmer at $1.10150.
China’s yuan - the currency most sensitive to the trade war - had risen to a one-week high of 7.0181 against the dollar, but was last trading at 7.0388.
“China and the U.S. agreed on a framework to resolve their phase one issue, which is just a way of saying that they did admin work,” said Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management.
The United States has imposed tariffs on Chinese goods in a 16-month dispute over trade practices that the U.S. government says are unfair. China has responded with its own tariffs on U.S. goods.
The next important date to watch is Dec. 15, when Washington is scheduled to impose even more tariffs on Chinese goods.
Safe-haven bond yields nudged back down, also reflecting the more cautious tone among investors.
The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield was last down 2 basis points on the day at around 1.75%.
Elsewhere, Bitcoin, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency, dipped to $7,065, holding above six-month lows hit on Monday after the People’s Bank of China launched a fresh crackdown on cryptocurrencies.
U.S. crude was flat at $58 a barrel. Brent crude was little changed at $63.71 per barrel.
Reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe; Additional reporting by Yoruk Bahceli and Olga Cotaga; Editing by Jon Boyle and Andrew Cawthorne