Asian Shares Tumble as Europe Fears Deepen

Asian markets tumbled on Monday and the euro was further pressured by nagging uncertainty over the Eurozone as leaders of the debt-troubled region struggle to find a plan to solve the crisis.

The week got off to a poor start as investors were left unimpressed by a commitment at the weekend from G20 finance chiefs that they would take strong, co-ordinated action to avoid another global financial crisis.

And they are even more nervous as Europe heads into a crunch week that will be key to the future of the region.

Tokyo fell 2.17 percent, or 186.13 points, to 8,374.13, Seoul shed 2.64 percent, or 44.73 points, to 1,652.71 and Sydney ended 1.01 percent, or 39.3 points, off at 3,863.9.

In the afternoon Hong Kong fell 2.97 percent and Shanghai lost 1.54 percent.

Bangkok fell more than eight percent and Manila slumped 4.24 percent, or 164.74 points, to 3,721.22, its lowest close since September 2010.

The losses extended those from last week, when some global indexes were sent tumbling to multi-year lows because of the ongoing European crisis as well as concerns over U.S. economic growth.

The G20 meeting in Washington issued an emergency statement saying: "We... are committed to a strong and coordinated international response to address the renewed challenges facing the global economy.

"We are taking strong actions to maintain financial stability, restore confidence and support growth."

However, despite moves to shore up confidence in Greece, many fear the country will inevitably default on its loans, which could in turn spread to other economies and lead to another financial downturn.

Mitul Kotecha, a strategist at Credit Agricole, said: "A pledge by G20 officials to help combat the crisis gave some support to markets but given that there were no details on how this would be done, it will not do much to alleviate market stress without some concrete action."

Teppei Ino, an analyst at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, said the group "came short of mapping out any measures with immediate effects so have failed to stop the market's selling of risky assets".

A senior dealer at a major Japanese trust bank told Dow Jones Newswires: "Uncertainty will likely persist."

The sell-off comes as the Eurozone faces a challenging week with European and IMF experts due to resume a fiscal audit that will decide if Athens can access the latest tranche of rescue funds to escape default.

And German lawmakers will Thursday vote on a beefed-up European Union stability fund that would permit sovereign debt restructuring, which the Eurozone looks increasingly likely to need.

That vote is two days after Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou visits Berlin for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel amid speculation that a second, multi-billion euro bailout for Athens crafted in July will need to be revised.

The euro slumped to $1.3390 in Tokyo afternoon trade from $1.3503 late Friday in New York while it also hit 102.17 yen -- its lowest since June 2001 -- from 103.31.

The dollar was slightly lower at 76.34 yen compared with 76.50 yen.

The greenback also extended gains against the commodities-linked Australian dollar. The Aussie -- which just over two months ago hit a record above U.S.$1.10 -- slid to 96.38 U.S. cents late in the session, down from 98.34 cents on Friday.

On oil markets New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in November, fell $1.09 to $78.76 per barrel in the afternoon.

Brent North Sea crude for November delivery slipped 47 cents to $103.50.

Gold tumbled to $1,577.30 an ounce by 0625 GMT, well down from the $1,734.86 it was at by 0900 GMT Friday, with analysts saying dealers were cashing in their investments and shifting into the U.S. dollar as a safe haven.

It was also being sold after CME Group, which runs the online trading platform for gold, said it would raise the amount of collateral for dealers trading the precious metal.

In other markets:

-- Taipei closed 2.40 percent, or 169.10 points, lower at 6,977.12.

Leading smartphone maker HTC tumbled 6.04 percent to Tw$638.0 while design house MediaTek lost 5.56 percent to Tw$306.0

-- Wellington closed down 0.83 percent, or 27.34 points, at 3,255.37.

Telecom dived 5.3 percent to NZ$2.50 and Contact Energy fell 2.4 percent to NZ$5.38.

Source: Agence France Presse

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