Asian shares tread water on opening as China GDP awaited

TOKYO - Asian stocks balked at the starting gate on Tuesday, as investors looked past solid gains on Wall Street overnight to Chinese economic growth figures due later in the session.

Data due at 10am Singapore time (0200 GMT) is expected to show that China's economy grew at its weakest pace in more than five years in the third quarter as a property downturn weighed on demand, raising the chances of more aggressive policy steps from the government.

China will also release data on industrial output and retail sales for September.

"Market action will largely depend on the release of key economic numbers in China," Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, said in a note.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was flat in early trade, while Japan's Nikkei stock average drooped about 0.2 per cent.

The Nikkei surged 4 per cent on Monday, its biggest rise since June 2013, buoyed by the global rebound as well as news that Japan's US$1.2 trillion public pension fund was likely to more than double its allocation to domestic stocks.

Wall Street marked gains overnight despite a quarterly earnings miss from IBM, and Apple Inc posted a better-than-expected 12 percent jump in revenue after the close.

Early on Monday, Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher told CNBC television that last week's turbulent trading should not stop the Fed from ending its third round of quantitative easing.

The consensus view is that the Fed will decide to wrap up its bond purchases for QE3 later this month, at its Oct 28-29 policy meeting, while short-term interest rates futures implied markets do not expect the U.S. central bank to raise rates until late 2015.

Those expectations, combined with fears about the Ebola virus and fighting in the Middle East, have kept benchmark Treasury yields not far above 2 per cent, and capped the US dollar's gains.

The yield on benchmark 10-year notes was at 2.184 per cent in early Asian trade, compared to Monday's U.S. close of 2.183 per cent.