(Reuters) -- Asian shares eased Tuesday as investors cautiously awaited Chinese trade data to gauge whether the world's second-largest economy could achieve a soft landing, after a sharp slowdown in U.S. jobs creation clouded prospects for global growth.
China's trade figures due later on Tuesday follow an annual inflation rate which exceeded expectations in March but didn't change expectations that Beijing would remain flexible about easing monetary policy to support growth. The country will report first-quarter gross domestic product on Friday.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> was barely changed while Japan's Nikkei average <.N225> opened up 0.4 percent, after falling to a one-month low on Monday.
We remain constructive about global risk but expect a choppy trading environment this week, Barclays Capital analysts said in a research note.
A key gauge of how investors perceive risk, the VIX index <.VIX>, rose to a one-month high on Monday to end at 18.81, reflecting growing risk aversion. The VIX, which measures expected volatility in the Standard & Poor's 500 index <.SPX> over the next 30 days, is up about 21 percent in April.
We are looking forward to see if trade data or Q1 GDP growth numbers for China will confirm our soft-landing scenario. The environment is likely choppier for global stocks that will have to assimilate a disappointing U.S. earnings season, Barclays said.
China's economy likely grew at its slowest pace in nearly three years between January and March at just 8.3 percent, still well above the government's full-year growth target of 7.5 percent and pointing to a soft economic landing.
U.S. earnings will come to the fore this week, with bellwethers Google Inc (GOOG.O) and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) scheduled to report results. Alcoa (AA.N) will be the first component of the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> to report results, after Tuesday's closing bell.
U.S. bank executives face great expectations from investors when they report first-quarter results beginning Friday.
The dollar was up 0.2 percent against the yen at 81.61 yen and steady against the euro at $1.3112. The dollar weakened after the disappointing U.S. jobs data.
Oil prices were weak, with U.S. oil inching down 0.1 percent to $102.38 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude settled down 76 cents to $122.67 a barrel on Monday.
Oil prices fell in light volume on Monday as revived talks on Iran's nuclear program eased fears of supply disruption, while slowing U.S. jobs growth sparked concern about fuel demand for fuel.
Data from EPFR Global showed global equity markets struggled during the first week of April as the latest Federal Reserve minutes dashed hopes for another round of quantitative easing and surging Spanish bond yields refueled fears about the euro zone debt crisis. EPFR Global-tracked Equity Funds posted collective outflows of $2 billion for the week ending April 4.