* European shares open 0.2 pct lower ahead of data
* Euro firms dips, ECB caution provides support
* Dollar falls vs yen after sharp and rapid rise
By Marc Jones
LONDON, Jan 8 (Reuters) - European shares and the euro
dipped on Tuesday after an unexpected slump in German exports
set a negative tone ahead of other data that will fill out the
picture of the region's economic health.
Euro zone sentiment, employment and retail sales are due at
1000 GMT and economists have forecast a slight improvement.
"The latest German trade report was disappointing, reporting
a much steeper-than-expected 3.4 percent month on month decline
in exports in November, following a 0.3 percent rise
previously," said Daiwa economist Emily Nicol, adding it
pointed to a sharp German contraction at the end of 2012.
European shares opened down 0.2 percent as London's
FTSE 100, Paris's CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX
started the day 0.1 to 0.3 percent lower.
In the currency market, the euro was 0.1 percent
lower against the dollar but remained firmly above $1.31 with
economists seeing little chance that the ECB will signal a
further cut to its already record low interest rate on Thursday.
The dollar paused from a sharp rally against the yen
which has seen it rise more than 10 percent against the Japanese
currency in less than two months.
German government bond prices also edged higher as investors
dipped a toe back into the market for low-yielding but secure
assets as a steep selloff last week made valuations more
The German bund future was up 10 ticks at 143.16 by
0810 GMT, climbing for a second day after a small rise on Monday
and moving in line with U.S. Treasuries. The rebound follows a
three point sell off last week when an easing of U.S. fiscal
concerns saw investors pile into riskier assets.
Later in the day eyes will focus on Spain when it details
how much money it needs to raise this year. The country is at
the frontline of the euro zone debt crisis and is expected by
many to turn to official lenders for a bailout in 2013.