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Asian markets slip on EU summit concerns

June 25, 2012


The summit comes as debt woes have spread from Greece to Spain, which is enveloped by a banking and economic crisis, while Italy is also in danger of succumbing. - File photo


HONG KONG: Asian markets fell Monday on pessimism over the likelihood that a European summit this week will come up with a plan to address the region's crippling debt crisis.

Last week's announcement by the eurozone's four biggest hitters to set aside more than $160 billion to boost growth had little impact on sentiment, with most of the cash coming from existing projects.

Tokyo fell 0.15 per cent by the break, Hong Kong slipped 0.10 per cent, Sydney shed 1.08 per cent, Seoul dived 1.62 per cent and Shanghai lost 0.62 per cent.

Attention has turned to the meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, where leaders will try to come up with a plan to support weaker economies and avoid a potentially catastrophic economic collapse.

The talks come as debt woes have spread from Greece to Spain, which is enveloped by a banking and economic crisis, while Italy is also in danger of succumbing.

However, despite so much at stake there are concerns that the differences between leaders on the best way forward -- with powerhouse Germany almost alone in striving for austerity -- will mean no concrete or effective plan is agreed.

“We suspect investors will walk away disappointed once again,” said Standard Chartered in a note.

“We expect the pressure on both Europe and its financial system to resume, encouraging further depreciation of the euro,” it said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

On Friday Germany, France, Italy and Spain -- the four biggest economies in the eurozone -- agreed measures worth up to 130 billion euros ($163 billion) to tackle the debt crisis.

French President Francois Hollande said the leaders had agreed to mobilise “one per cent of European GDP, which is 120 to 130 billion euros, to support growth” -- a move Germany's Angela Merkel hailed as “an important signal”.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said the four leaders had agreed that boosting growth in the eurozone was key to restoring confidence.

The measures include a capital injection for the European Investment Bank, the redirection of some unspent EU regional funds and “project bonds” to finance infrastructure works.

However, much of the money comes from already existing programmes.

In morning forex trade the euro bought $1.2530 and 100.60 yen, down from $1.2569 and 101.10 yen in New York late Friday. The dollar weakened to 80.30 yen from 80.43 yen.

On Wall Street the Dow gained 0.53 per cent, the S&P 500 climbed 0.72 per cent and the tech-rich Nasdaq 1.17 per cent.

Oil was up in Asian trade on Monday, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, gaining 30 cents to $80.06 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for August delivery rising a cent to $90.99.

Gold was at $1,572.80 an ounce at 0255 GMT, compared with $1,568.20 late Friday.