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Asian shares near three-year lows as China worries linger

Investors look at computer screens in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai, China, September 7, 2015. REUTERS/Aly Song

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares looked set to struggle on Tuesday to defend the three-year trough hit last month as investors sought more signs of stability in China's slowing economy and volatile financial markets.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> on Monday closed near the three-year low hit two weeks ago. In Japan, stock futures suggest Japan's Nikkei (.N225) is likely to post slim gains.

Chinese shares (.SSEC) fell on Monday after a long weekend with tighter futures trading rules and supportive comments by China's central bank governor failing to stem selling pressure.

Also highlighting the sheer size of Beijing's market intervention to halt a slide in the yuan, China's foreign exchange reserves posted their biggest monthly fall on record, $94 billion, in August, data showed on Monday.

"The fall was larger than market expectations... Coupled with other data, it shows that the Chinese authorities have been intervening to support the yuan as capital outflow continues," said Shin Kadota, chief FX strategist at Barclays in Tokyo.

Tuesday will see China's trade data, which is expected to show slowdown in both imports and exports.

Many Asian and emerging economy currencies faced pressure also as Friday's U.S. employment data did not erase the possibility that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this year.

Malaysia's ringgit (MYR=) plumbed 17-year low and even the South Korean won (KRW=KFTC) weakened to four-year lows.

With U.S. financial markets shut for holiday on Monday, the dollar moved little against major currencies.

The dollar index stood at 96.166 (=USD), little changed from late last week.

Oil prices fell more than 3 percent on Monday, as fall in Chinese share prices and record North Sea crude production data that added to global supply concerns.

Brent crude futures (LCOc1) fell 3.7 percent to $47.76 per barrel, falling below the 50 percent retracement of their rally late August to $54.32 from 1/2-year low of $42.23.

(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Eric Meijer)