(Reuters) - Asian shares steadied Tuesday with investors staying sidelined ahead of more figures from Europe and the United States later in the day, after recent data showed the euro zone's debt woes were eroding business activity globally.
Deteriorating global growth prospects, on the other hand, will keep expectations firmly in place for further stimulus steps from policymakers seeking to bolster growth, and support investor sentiment.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> nudged up 0.1 percent, while Japan's Nikkei stock average <.N225> opened up 0.3 percent. Global equities eased on Monday, with European shares taking their sharpest fall in more than a week in thin volumes. .T
After last week's bleak China trade data and Monday's report showing a slowdown in Japan's economy, market participants are now eyeing the euro zone's second quarter gross domestic product, which is expected to contract, and July U.S. retail sales and consumer prices due later in the day for trading cues.
"One important channel by which news on GDP affects financial markets is its effect on policy. In the euro zone, where broad-based weakness of growth means that the ECB could easily justify further measures now if it so wished, we expect monetary policy to be loosened further in the months ahead," Barclays Capital said in a research note.
The euro steadied at $1.2326 but capped well below a one-month high of $1.2444 touched on August 6.
"The single currency may come under pressure over the next 24-hours of trading should the economic docket highlight a growing threat for a prolonged recession," said David Song, currency analyst at DailyFX.
Brent crude inched down 0.2 percent to $113.40 a barrel, after rising on Monday to a three-month peak on concerns about North Sea supply and Middle East tensions. U.S. crude eased 0.1 percent to $92.60 a barrel after closing down for a second straight session on Monday.
Asian credit markets were subdued early on Tuesday, with the spread on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japaninvestment-grade index holding steady.
While growth worries weighed on broad assets and prompted investors to take profits, hopes which underpinned recent rallies remained. Markets were still expecting the European Central Bank to start buying sovereign bonds to lower borrowing costs for Spain, and the U.S. Federal Reserve to expand its monetary easing in coming weeks.
The ECB earlier this month had suggested it could step in again to buy government bonds, but only under certain conditions. European Union leaders, on the other hand, must await the German Constitutional Court's verdict due on September 12 to give an expected green light to the euro zone's permanent bailout fund and the fiscal pact for budget discipline.
Investors will also look for policy clues from the annual meeting of economists and central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, at the end of the month.
As markets were caught between worries and hopes, a gauge for investor risk aversion continued to improve. The CBOE Volatility index <.VIX>, which measures expected volatility in the Standard & Poor's 500 index <.SPX> over the next 30 days, closed down 7.06 percent at 13.70 on Monday, its lowest in over five years.
Grains fell on Monday from rallies caused by the worst U.S. drought in more than half a century and poor crops from the Black Sea bread basket.
Leading members of the Group of 20 nations were planning to hold a conference call at the end of August over soaring grain prices, aiming to avoid a repeat of the food price spike that triggered riots in poorer countries in 2008.