Asian shares steadied on Tuesday as investors saw weak regional and global economic data as raising the prospect for further stimulus from central banks to underpin growth, while Europe kept hopes for some progress in tackling its debt crisis. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan were little changed. The index fell to a fresh four-week low on Monday before recovering to rise on global stimulus hopes. Japan’s Nikkei stock average opened up 0.1 per cent after hitting a four-week low on Monday. European shares inched higher on Monday but in a range, with US markets closed for the Labour Day holiday. The US will report its Institute for Supply Management manufacturing data later on Tuesday, a key report helping to gauge the probability of an easing by the Federal Reserve at its September 12-13 policy meeting. “Yesterday’s pattern is likely to be repeated today. Traders are watching to see if (ECB President Mario) Draghi comes out holding a definite card of action,” said Chung Seung-jae, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities. Business surveys from the euro zone to China on Monday underscored a spreading contraction in manufacturing business around the world in August, as the damage on the global economy from the euro zone’s troubles deepened. New export orders fell even in such countries as India, where manufacturers have expanded without a break for over three years. The euro zone purchasing managers’ index stayed below the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction for the 13th month in a row, raising expectations the European Central Bank may cut its main interest rates from record lows on Thursday. Markets were already expecting the ECB to at least outline its bond-buying scheme aimed at containing the borrowing cost in struggling economies such as Spain. Such prospects have helped cap Spanish 10-year yields below a critical level of 7 per cent. Draghi told European lawmakers on Monday the ECB’s purchases of short term sovereign bonds would not breach the European Union’s taboo of directly financing euro zone economies, according to a recording obtained by Reuters. “The comments were not meant to be public but of course raised market expectations of the ECB meeting on Thursday,” Westpac Institutional Bank said in a note. Separately, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Monday he was sure the country’s Constitutional Court at its September 12 ruling would not block treaties establishing a permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), and strong budgetary regulations in Europe. The ESM, meant to succeed the existing temporary European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), will provide a crucial firewall to contain the euro zone debt crisis and the ECB’s bond-buying plan is conditional on the deployment of the ESM. “While the white swan from the ECB’s announcement of a new bond buying programme was welcome, we remain concerned that new white swans will be slower in coming,” Societe Generale said in a research note. “This is nonetheless what defines the main upside. In China and the US, the upside is defined by more policy stimulus. Our fear is that such initially white swans, medium-term would turn to black,” it said. Moody’s Investors Service issued a reminder of the risks in Europe. Moody’s said it changed the outlook of the EU’s AAA long-term issuer rating to negative from stable, citing negative outlooks to the AAA sovereign ratings of Germany, France, the UK and the Netherlands, which combined account for about 45 per cent of the EU’s budget revenue.