Naharnet

Asian Shares Mostly Up After G8 Meeting

Asian markets were mostly higher on Monday after last week's huge losses, with traders taking some heart from a statement by Group of Eight leaders saying they wanted Greece to remain in the eurozone.

The euro also bounced back from four-month lows against the dollar after the weekend announcement, but comments from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao hinting at more monetary easing failed to lift sentiment in Hong Kong.

Tokyo gained 0.26 percent, or 22.58 points, to end at 8,633.89, Sydney rose 0.67 percent, or 27.1 points, to 4,073.6 and Seoul closed 0.94 percent higher, adding 16.67 points to 1,799.13. In late trade Shanghai added 0.14 percent but Hong Kong slipped 0.49 percent.

The G8 leaders meeting at the U.S. president's retreat at Camp David on Saturday said they wanted Athens to stay part of the currency union and urged it stick to terms of a bailout deal.

"We agree on the importance of a strong and cohesive eurozone for global stability and recovery," a joint communique stated. "We affirm our interest in Greece remaining in the eurozone while respecting its commitments."

However, the talks highlighted differences on whether to pursue more belt-tightening or pro-growth measures, meaning they could not come up with an agreement on how to deal with the growing crisis.

Global markets have been sent into a spin since May 6 polls in Greece and France that saw voters overwhelmingly back anti-austerity parties.

Another election has been called for next month in Greece after several attempts to form a coalition government failed.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the June 17 poll will see Greece not only electing lawmakers but voting on whether their country stays in the eurozone.

"Europe is ready to help the Greek people... But Europeans can't do the work that Greece must do, that depends on the Greeks," he told the Sunday edition of Greek daily Kathimerini.

On currency markets the euro strengthened to $1.2790 in Tokyo afternoon trade, from $1.2773 in New York late Friday.

The unit on Friday hit a four-month-low $1.2642 on deepening worries about the eurozone.

On Monday, the euro also rose to 101.30 yen from 100.94 yen, while the dollar advanced to 79.25 yen from 78.95 yen.

In China on Sunday Wen vowed proactive policies to make growth a bigger priority, following a string of weak data pointing to a slowdown in the world's second largest economy.

"We should continue to implement a proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy, while giving more priority to maintaining growth," he said, raising hopes the leadership will add to last week's cut in the amount of cash banks must hold in reserve.

Oil prices advanced. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in June was up 37 cents at $91.85 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for July gained 77 cents to $107.91 in the afternoon.

Gold was at $1,595.05 an ounce at 0630 GMT, compared with $1,589.90 late Friday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei added 0.57 percent, or 41.04 points, to end at 7,192.23.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.86 percent higher at Tw$82.5 while leading smartphone maker HTC added 1.62 percent at Tw$407.0.

-- Wellington eased 0.23 percent, or 8.05 points, to 3,493.39.

Fletcher Building was off 0.32 percent at NZ$6.27 and Air New Zealand fell 0.54 percent to NZ$0.915.

Source: Agence France Presse


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