Saturday, July 7, 2012

Stock markets rise on euro optimism

Asian stock markets have inched higher amid continued optimism over Europe's moves to ease its debt crisis and economic malaise.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.4% to 9,037.95 and South Korea's Kospi gained 0.2% to 1,857.08. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index added 0.9% to 4,132. China's Shanghai Composite index increased 0.2% to 2,228.89.
Markets in Hong Kong were closed to commemorate the handover of the territory to China in 1997.
Leaders of the 27 European Union countries said after a meeting on Friday that they would seek to centralise regulation of European banks and, if necessary, bail them out directly, instead of funnelling loans through governments that already have too much debt.
The EU said it also plans to ease borrowing costs for Italy and Spain, the third and fourth largest of the 17 economies that use the euro. It would also stop mandating painful budget cuts for every country in need of emergency financial aid and tie the region's budgets, currency and governments more tightly.
Investors will be closely watching as EU finance ministers work out the details of these plans over the next two weeks.
Some analysts expect the European Central Bank and the Bank of England to cut lending rates this week in a bid to spur economic growth.
"We look this week for renewed easing by the ECB and BoE in an environment of very soft business confidence," Barclays said in a report. "The primary factor behind weak global confidence is weakness in EU demand."
Signs that the Chinese economy, the world's second largest, continues to slow kept Asian markets in check. Chinese industrial production fell to a seven-month low in June, according to HSBC's purchasing managers index survey.
"Growth is likely to be on track for further slowdown," said HSBC economist Hongbin Qu. "We expect more decisive monetary easing efforts to come through in the coming months."

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