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Feb 16, 2015 11:56 AM

Europe stocks wary on Greece, Asia up on Japan recession end

The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) European stocks edged lower on Monday as investors were skeptical that Greece and its European creditors would find a quick deal to solve the country's debt problems. Asian stocks, however, closed higher after Japan emerged from recession.

KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX fell 0.4 percent to close at 10,923.23 and France's CAC 40 dropped 0.2 percent to 4,751.95. Britain's FTSE 100 inched down 0.2 percent to 6,857.05. In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 jumped 0.5 percent to 18,004.77 and the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.6 percent to 3,222.36. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.2 percent to 24,726.50. Wall Street is closed for a public holiday.

GREEK TENSIONS: Eurozone finance ministers meet Monday to consider Greece's proposal for short-term "bridge financing" without the onerous terms previously imposed on the country until a longer-term solution to Greece's crushing debt is found. Investors hope an agreement will be reached to avoid Greece's exit from the euro. Germany's finance minister on Monday said a quick deal on Monday is unlikely. That pushed Athens' stock index down almost 4 percent.

JAPAN REBOUND: Asia was buoyed by news Japan emerged from recession last quarter, even though growth fell short of many forecasters' expectations. Data on Monday showed the world's third-largest economy grew at a 2.2 percent annualized rate in the three months ending in October, boosted by exports and public spending. Growth for 2014 was flat and real wages fell 0.1 percent. Private investment was anemic, suggesting that businesses and households still are cautious. Japan's economy slipped into recession last year after the government increased sales tax in April.

THE QUOTE: "The fact that the economic growth started stabilizing should be reassuring to both the government and the Bank of Japan," said economist Yoshiro Sato of Credit Agricole-CIB in a report. "That said, the level of real GDP is still far below that before the consumption tax hike and that will require continued efforts made by the government side in terms of structural reforms."

ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude was up 22 cents at $53.00 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.57 on Friday to close at $52.78.

CURRENCIES: The dollar dropped to 118.48 yen from 118.76 yen late Friday. The euro was steady at $1.1390.


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