* Fall in shipments slightly less steep than in July

* Deliveries in key European market tumbled 72 percent

* Shipments fell 33 pct in North America, 43 pct in Asia

World number two truck maker Volvo (VOLVb.ST) said on Tuesday truck deliveries fell 52 percent year-on-year in August as markets across the globe remained mired by the economic downturn.

Volvo, which sells trucks under brands such as Renault, Nissan Diesel and Mack as well as its own name, said deliveries were down 72 percent in Europe, its biggest market, while they fell 33 percent in North America and 43 percent in Asia.

In addition to continued low demand, deliveries for August were also affected by a prolonged vacation period, the company said in a statement.

Heavy-duty truck markets have been savaged on both sides of the Atlantic as the global financial crisis has left buyers starved of money to fund the purchase of new vehicles, while deep recession has further dampened demand.

But tentative signs of stabilisation have emerged in recent months with annualised rates of decline not steepening from the headlong tumble recorded around the turn of the year.

The decline in Volvo's deliveries in August was an improvement from the 54 percent fall in July as well as being slower than the drop through the whole January to August period.

It came in exactly as expected. August is the weakest month of all year and this is what we're seeing here, Handelsbanken Capital Markets Hampus Engellau said. I had seen a drop of 53 percent and the drop was 52 percent, in total they sold 135 trucks more than I had expected.

Volvo shares opened 0.4 percent higher to narrowly outpace a 0.1 percent gain in the Stockholm bourse's blue chip index .OMXS30.

The Swedish vehicles maker expects the European truck market to halve or worse this year while the already weak North American market will dip a further 30-40 percent.

Volvo has slashed thousands of jobs to bring down costs in the face of the downturn but still skidded to its worst quarterly loss since the sale of its car business to Ford (F.N) a decade ago. [ID:LL382172] (Editing by Dan Lalor)