Asian markets rise on Europe debt meeting

Asian markets rose in early trade Monday as investors reacted to news that Europe vowed to its G20 partners at the weekend to take swift and decisive action on tackling its debt crisis.

Tokyo rose 1.53 percent by the break, Hong Kong gained 1.97 percent, Sydney added 1.91 percent and Seoul was up 1.41 percent while Shanghai rose 0.7 percent, reversing an initial dip into negative territory.

The gains took a lead from Wall Street and European markets, which rose Friday amid hopes the weekend meeting would result in a concrete plan to battle Europe's fiscal woes and prevent the world economy from slipping back into recession.

Speaking after a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bankers in Paris, French Finance Minister Francois Baroin said the eurozone would present answers as soon as next weekend, at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

"The results of the October 23 summit will be decisive," Baroin said. "We are acting resolutely to maintain financial stability."

The G20 finance chiefs welcomed Europe's efforts but made it clear more needed to be done.

"We look forward to further work to maximise the impact of the (European bailout fund) in order to avoid contagion," they said in a joint statement.

US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said they "heard encouraging things from our European colleagues in Paris about a new comprehensive plan to deal with the crisis on the continent."

However, Geithner warned that the plan must include measures to ensure that European governments could borrow at sustainable interest rates, a broad recapitalisation of banks, and further support for debt-riddled Greece.

"The plan has the right elements," he said, but added: "They clearly have more work to do on the strategy and the details."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have pushed hard for the idea of a tax on financial market transactions.

G20 nations, which represent 85 percent of the global economy, pledged to announce at next month's Cannes summit concrete steps to boost growth as the world economy skids.

Reducing Greece's debt, now more than 150 percent of annual output, to a more sustainable level is emerging as a key element to resolve the eurozone crisis.

At a July summit eurozone leaders decided to ask investors to take a loss of 21 percent on Greek bonds as part of a second rescue programme for Greece, but experts are saying Greece needs to cut its debt by around half to put the country's finances on a firm footing.

After finally getting approval this week on boosting their European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) bailout fund to 440 billion euros ($600 billion), eurozone leaders are already studying ways to leverage its assets up to 2.5 trillion euros.

The enhanced EFSF will be able to inject money into shaky banks or intervene instead of the European Central Bank to support weaker eurozone countries facing problems in raising fresh funds on the markets.

Markets may remain shaky pending more details about the state of Greece's finances, despite the growing optimism about Europe's debt plan.

"The market has more or less factored that in," Kazuhiro Takahashi, general manager of investment strategy at Daiwa Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.

The euro stood at $1.3850 in Tokyo trade, down slightly from $1.3881 in New York late Friday. The European single currency edged down to 106.91 yen from 107.17 yen.

The dollar fetched 77.17 yen, little changed from 77.21 yen.

New York's main oil contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November, added 35 cents to $87.15 per barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in December gained 18 cents to $112.41.

By 0230 GMT gold was at $1,681.10 an ounce, compared with $1,674.35 an ounce at 1100 GMT Friday.

AFP

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