GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian stocks perk up on China data, Nikkei volatile
* Asian stocks ex-Japan up, cheered by upbeat China trade data
* Nikkei plumbs six-week closing low, volatile in thin trade
* BOJ, as expected, maintains massive stimulus
* Australian dollar, copper hit session highs
SYDNEY, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Asian stocks rebounded and investors snapped up the Australian dollar after trade data out of China far exceeded expectations on Thursday, but Japanese shares suffered yet another nasty reversal in thin trade to end at a six-week closing low.
Copper scaled a seven-week peak after exports from China, a top metals consumer, rose 5.1 percent in July from a year ago and imports jumped 10.9 percent, a solid turnaround from unexpected falls in June.
The surprise trade bounce offered hopes the world's second biggest economy may be stabilising after a slowdown that has prompted the government to shore up activity.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.8 percent, recovering more than half of Wednesday's losses. Stock markets from Australia to Hong Kong were up between 0.4 percent to 0.9 percent.
"Both the export and import figures surprised the market on the upside, thanks to an improving external environment as well as Beijing's targeted measures to shore up the economy," said Zhou Hao, an economist at ANZ in Shanghai.
"The recovery in the world economy, especially the encouraging signs from the U.S. economy, may continue to underpin trade growth in the second half and we expect China is able to achieve its 8 percent annual target for trade."
In contrast, Tokyo's Nikkei shed 1.6 percent, extending Wednesday's 4.0 percent drop. Earlier, the index had climbed as much as 1.4 percent.
The fall came even after the Bank of Japan maintained its massive monetary stimulus in a widely expected decision following a policy review.
Volatility has increased sharply for the Japanese market since May 23, when the Nikkei plunged 7.3 percent after hitting a 5-1/2 year high during the day.
There have now been 46 sessions this year where intraday swings exceeded 2.5 percent, most of them occurring after May 23, compared with a mere four in 2012. The S&P 500 only has had 2 such trading days this year, while the Euro STOXX 50 has had 15.
Some traders pointed to the settlement of Nikkei options contracts on Friday as a source of recent volatility, while others said there was growing unease that the Japanese government may backtrack on painful economic reforms needed to bring its debt burden under control.
Economics Minister Akira Amari said on Thursday the government will make a decision from late September to early October on whether to raise the sales tax as planned.
Amari told a news conference after a cabinet meeting that raising the sales tax next year may not be the best option if the economy loses momentum.
YEN ALSO JUMPY
The sudden downswing in the Nikkei saw the yen recover earlier losses, leaving the dollar at 96.36 yen, well off a session high around 96.95. The euro retreated to 128.52 yen , from 129.23.
Both currencies were firmly on track to post losses against the yen this week. The Nikkei is down 5.9 percent so far this week.
Against the dollar, the euro was steady at $1.3338 not far from a seven-week high of $1.3347 scaled overnight.
Investors bought the Australian dollar after the Chinese trade data, pushing it up 0.9 percent to $0.9074. China is Australia's single biggest export market and the Aussie is often used as a liquid proxy for China plays.
Also inspired by the Chinese trade numbers, copper jumped 2 percent to as far as $7,154 a tonne, reaching highs unseen since mid-June.
Gold was a touch firmer at $1,291 an ounce, having plumbed a three-week trough of $1.272.64 on Wednesday, while U.S. crude was flat at $104.40 a barrel, holding off a one-week low of $104.10.
Also as expected, South Korea's central bank held interest rates steady at 2.50 percent for a third straight month.
Several financial markets in South East Asia including Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are closed for a holiday marking the end of the Ramadan fasting month. India and the Philippines will shut on Friday for the Muslim holiday.