GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks rebound on bargain-hunting, euro steadies

* Global stocks rebound as bargain-hunters emerge

* Nikkei sagged 1.5 pc earlier on radiation leaks

* Euro steadies after Trichet remarks on inflation

* Gold flat on euro, oil slides again amid Libyan turmoil

By Richard Leong

HONG KONG, March 29 (Reuters) – Global stocks rebounded on
Tuesday from early losses tied to Japan’s struggle to contain
the world’s worst nuclear crisis in decades, while the euro
steadied after comments by the European Central Bank’s chief
bolstered the view it would raise interest rates soon.

Japan’s Nikkei index was down about 0.3 percent in
late trading after falling as much as 1.5 percent earlier.

Early price-drops enticed bargain-minded investors who feel
stocks are undervalued and poised to rise after Thursday’s end
of first quarter and the close of the Japanese fiscal year,
analysts said.

“Some investors concluded now it’s an opportunity to pick up
some shares,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at
AMP Capital Investors in Sydney. “The broad trend is up and dips
are being bought.”

Stocks fell initially following Monday’s losses on Wall
Street and news that plutonium was found in soil at the
earthquake-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant. [ID:nL3E7ES2ND]

Heightening the uncertainty for investors, some Japanese
companies said there would be delays in reporting full-year
financial results as they assessed the damage from the
devastating quake and tsunami which hit the country’s northeast
on March 11, and the impact of widespread power outages which
are still preventing many firms from restarting production
lines. [ID:nTKZ006904]

Shortages of key components made in Japan have forced some
manufacturers, particularly auto makers, to cut back production
in North America, Europe and parts of Asia.

MSCI’s index of Asian shares outside Japan
rose 0.37 percent after slipping 0.06 percent earlier.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 indexed gained 0.47 percent to 4755.80.

In Japan, shares of Fukushima’s operator Tokyo Electric
Power (TEPCO) were untraded on a flood of sell orders
on a newspaper report. The Yomiuri paper citing unidentified
government sources as saying there was talk about temporarily
nationalising the utility, which a top Japanese official denied.
[ID:nLJE7EI00H]

“TEPCO is the ground zero of the problem,” said Adrian
Foster, head of financial markets research Asia-Pacific at
Rabobank International in Hong Kong. “This is disproportionately
a Japan issue.”

A tepid session on Wall Street overnight reinforced
investors’ aversion to piling back into riskier assets. Data
showed U.S. consumers increased spending in February but much of
the gain went to cover rising food and energy costs, giving the
economy only a modest lift.

EURO FINDS FOOTING

In currency markets, the euro stabilised after ECB chief
Jean-Claude Trichet said inflation in the euro zone was
“durably” above the central bank’s target, reinforcing the view
it will raise interest rates early next month. The move would
boost the value of the single currency and returns on
euro-denominated investments.

Still, the euro remained under pressure because of

the region’s festering sovereign debt problems and
uncertainties stemming from Sunday’s loss of a key state
election by Germany’s ruling party.

The euro last traded at $1.4108 , compared with
$1.4078 late in New York on Monday. Early in the session, it was
as high as $1.4111.

The yen firmed against the dollar as the discovery of
plutonium leak at the Fukushima plant, together with the
fighting in Libya and unrest in the Middle East, stoked some
safe haven demand for the Japanese currency.

The dollar fell about 0.2 percent to 81.64 yen ,
moving further away from 82.00 — the March 18 high hit after
the world’s major central banks intervened to stem the yen’s
strength.

A steady euro fostered support for gold after losing ground
on Monday. Spot gold was last $1,419.69 an ounce in
tight-range trading, compared with $1,419.50 late in New York on
Monday. It is 2 percent below the record high of $1,447.40 set
on March 24.

Brent oil prices fell for a third straight day after rising
on a weak dollar and the political turmoil in North Africa and
Libya.

Several OPEC producers have boosted output recently to make
up for supply disruptions in Libya as rebels fight government
forces.

Brent crude (LCOc1: Quote, Profile, Research) fell 38 cents to $114.42 a barrel, while
U.S. crude (CLc1: Quote, Profile, Research) slipped 26 cents to $103.72.

(Additional reporting by Antoni Slodkowski and Natsuko Waki in
TOKYO; Rujun Shen and Randy Fabi in SINGAPORE; Editing by Kim
Coghill and Richard Borsuk)

GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks rebound on bargain-hunting, euro steadies