GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian stock rally takes a breather, yen in the doldrums
* MSCI Asia ex-Japan stock index off slightly after 9 days of gains
* Optimism about China, easing Syria worries whet risk appetite
* Safe-haven yen pressured, oil prices stay soft
SYDNEY, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Asian stocks stalled on Wednesday after nine days of gains, while investors gave the safe-haven yen a wide berth on growing optimism for the Chinese economy and receding worries about U.S. military strikes on Syria.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.2 percent, having already amassed gains of 2.7 percent so far this week. It has surged more than 8 percent in two short weeks.
Tokyo's Nikkei outperformed thanks to a weaker yen, which tends to boost demand for exporters such as Toyota . The Nikkei was up 0.6 percent, having reached highs not seen since late July.
E-Trade Securities analyst Choi Kwang-hyeok said some investors were choosing to book profits ahead of next week's Federal Reserve meeting that could see the U.S. central bank scale back its massive stimulus campaign.
"The week ahead contains cues that could change foreign capital flows," he said.
The recent rally partly reflected a rebound in emerging markets as a string of upbeat Chinese data bolstered investor confidence -- even as the Fed looked set to begin withdrawing support.
Indeed, MSCI's emerging equities index has jumped 9 percent in two weeks, cutting its annual loss to around 6 percent from as deep as 17 percent. It was down 0.5 percent on Wednesday.
Analysts at Credit Agricole said the selloff for emerging markets is probably not over yet, but expected pressure to moderate as U.S. yields increased at a less frantic pace, with the Fed most likely to taper very gradually.
"Also, the recovery in developed markets may support emerging markets (EM) exports and, in turn, EM domestic investment to some extent," they said in a report.
Investors had been bailing out of emerging markets en mass as they positioned for less support from the Fed, although last Friday's disappointing U.S. jobs data convinced many economists that any withdrawal will probably be very gradual.
Diminishing worries about potential U.S. military strikes on Syria had further helped sharpen investor appetite for emerging markets assets. Syria on Tuesday accepted a Russian proposal to give up chemical weapons and win a reprieve from U.S. action.
This improved sentiment can clearly be seen in the Australian dollar, which is usually used as a liquid proxy for Asia's emerging markets. It has rallied 4.7 percent to $0.9307 from the Aug. 28 trough of $0.8891. The Aussie was a touch softer on Wednesday at $0.9295.
Currency investors shunned the yen, which is further depressed by the Bank of Japan's own massive stimulus programme. Unlike the Fed, the BOJ is expected to maintain ultra-loose policy for some time yet.
The dollar scaled a seven-week peak of 100.55 yen, while the euro touched a 16-week high around 133.37.
Against the dollar, the common currency was steady at $1.3269 after hitting a two-week high of $1.3282.
Oil stayed under pressure with Brent crude languishing near a 2-1/2-week trough of $110.59. It last traded at $111.22, having shed 4 percent in the past two sessions, its largest two-day drop since June.
Copper drifted up 0.3 percent to $7,191.25 a tonne, while gold was steady at $1,365.56 an ounce.
There is little in the way of major economic news out of Asia on Wednesday. China's Premier Li Keqiang will give a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Beijing later in the day.