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Asian stocks lower as debt-strapped Greece grapples with political turmoil
BANGKOK (AP) ' Asian stocks stalled Monday as investors remain unsure whether Greece will be able to work itself out of a debt crisis despite a weekend deal by the country's leaders aimed at implementing a controversial austerity program.
Oil prices rose to near $95 per barrel, while the dollar gained against the euro but slipped against the yen.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.5 percent to 8,755.44. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.4 percent to 1,921.23 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was 0.5 percent down at 4,259.90. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.2 percent to 19,806.73. Shares in mainland china were also lower, while Benchmarks in Taiwan, Thailand and New Zealand rose.
Global stock markets have been rattled for the past week over uncertainty surrounding Greece. Investors worry that a default by Athens on its debts could cripple European banks and cause fiscal strain on much larger European countries like Italy.
On Wall Street on Friday, stocks fell on concerns that Greece might not go through with a plan hammered out by European leaders that requires Greece to implement harsh austerity measures in exchange for billions of euros in financial assistance.
The Dow fell 0.5 percent to close at 11,983.24. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.6 percent to 1,253.23. The Nasdaq composite shed 0.4 percent to 2,686.15.
Over the weekend, Prime Minister George Papandreou and conservative opposition head Antonis Samaras agreed to form an interim government whose main task would be to ensure implementation of the austerity program.
Stocks plunged early last week after Papandreou shocked investors with an announcement that he would put the country's austerity plan to a public vote. He backed away from the plan, but investors remain unnerved.
In one bright spot Friday, the U.S. Labor Department raised its estimates for job growth. The nation added 80,000 jobs last month, the 13th consecutive month of gains. The government also said a total of 102,000 more jobs were added in August and September than had been previously reported.
In Tokyo trade, Japanese exporters posted losses, as a stubbornly strong yen continued to eat into their profits. Nissan Motor Corp. dropped 2 percent, while Toshiba Corp. dipped 1.9 percent. Honda Motor Corp. fell 1.8 percent.
In Hong Kong, the most actively traded shares include China Construction Bank, down 2.8 percent, and China National Offshore Oil Corp., or CNOOC, down 2.2 percent. Gainers include China Life Insurance, up 3.1 percent.
Benchmark crude for December delivery was up 52 cents at $94.78 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 19 cents to settle at $94.26 in New York on Friday.
In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3770 from $1.3778 late Friday in New York.
The dollar fell to 78.10 yen from 78.16 yen.