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Asian stocks jump on hopes of Europe debt plan
Asian stock markets jump as officials express determination to fix Europe debt crisis
By The Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) ' Asian stocks rebounded Tuesday as pledges by European officials to resolve the region's debt problems once and for all helped soothe market jitters.

Oil prices rose to nearly $82 per barrel while the dollar slipped against the euro and the yen.

Japan's Nikkei 225 shot up 1.8 percent to 8,525.33, a day after shedding more than 2 percent and ending at its lowest level since April 2009. South Korea's Kospi rallied 3.8 percent to 1,713.70. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 2.4 percent to 17,826.25. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index was 2.8 percent higher at 3,971.20.

After weeks of indecision, European ministers told a meeting of global finance leaders in Washington over the weekend that they would take bolder and more decisive steps to pull Greece back from the brink of bankruptcy. The country has only enough money to see it through until mid-October.

Stressing the urgency of the situation, President Barack Obama on Monday called on Europe's leadership to move quickly.

Financial stocks were buoyed by hopes that a plan was in the works to prevent Greece from defaulting on its debts ' an event that might crush banks with significant holdings of the country's bonds and cause domino-style defaults in other indebted countries such as Italy.

Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. gained 3.7 percent. Commonwealth Bank of Australia Ltd., the nation's largest lender, rose 3.1 percent. Hong Kong-listed shares of Agricultural Bank of China, the nation's largest rural lender, jumped 4.9 percent.

But some traders remained skeptical, saying it was unrealistic to think that Europe would be willing or able to throw the amount of money needed to dig Greece out from under its staggering debt load.

"Some of these eurozone nations cannot be bailed out," said Tey Tze Ming, a trader at Saxo Capital Markets in Singapore. "There's not enough cash to go around," he said. "The European banks stand to take a lot of pain on their balance sheets, which is what all this nervousness is about."

Ming said he believes the timing is now right to buy gold, which plunged $45 an ounce on Monday to settle below $1,600 for the first time since July.

"Our scenario is: the European crisis is going to become worse before anything. Gold as a safe haven should come back," he said.

Energy shares rose on rising oil prices. PetroChina, the country's biggest oil and gas company, rose 6.4 percent in Hong Kong. Japanese energy explorer Inpex Corp. gained 1.5 percent. Australia's Woodside Petroleum was 2.7 percent higher.

On Monday, Wall Street saw its biggest gains in more than two weeks. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 272 points, or 2.5 percent, to close at 11,043.86 ' the biggest gain since Sept. 7. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 2.3 percent to 1,162.95. The Nasdaq composite rose 1.4 percent to 2,516.69.

Benchmark oil for November delivery rose $1.43 to $81.67 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 39 cents to finish at $80.24 per barrel Monday on the Nymex.

In currencies, euro rose to $1.3527 from $1.3472 late Monday in New York. The dollar fell to 76.32 yen from 76.49 yen.

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