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MENAFN - AFP - 12/11/2012

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(MENAFN - AFP) European stock markets and the euro steadied on Monday with the focus on EU talks concerning Greek debt, after a mixed batch of Asian economic data and amid strains over the outlook for the United States.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index of top companies rose 0.22 percent to 5,782.18 points approaching midday in London, Frankfurt's DAX 30 gained 0.20 percent to 7,177.79 points and in Paris the CAC 40 dipped 0.15 percent to 3,418.34.

Greece's unrelenting debt drama tops the agenda on Monday when eurozone finance ministers discuss whether Athens has met conditions set by its international creditors to provide bailout funds so it can stay afloat.

The talks come hours after the Greek parliament, amid noisy protests, agreed a tough cost-cutting 2013 budget, the latest hurdle cleared by Athens to guarantee the release of the foreign aid needed to stave off insolvency.

However no decision is expected in Brussels on Monday on delivering a much-awaited fresh aid tranche of 31.5 billion euros (40 billion) held back since June.

"European leaders meet later today, where investors hoped the group would sign off on the payment to Greece; however it looks like that won't happen for a numbers of weeks yet," said David Madden, market analyst at IG trading group.

"It's shaping up to be a reasonably dull day for the markets, with investors listening for any further developments from Europe."

In foreign exchange activity on Monday ahead of the Greece talks, the euro eased to 1.2708 from 1.2709 late in New York on Friday.

Gold prices dipped to 1,735.13 an ounce from 1,738.25 on Friday.

Asian markets closed mixed on Monday as news that Japan's economy shrank in the July-September quarter and fears over the US "fiscal cliff" offset another round of healthy Chinese data, traders said.

Recent indications that the Chinese economy is emerging from a drawn-out slumber were reinforced Saturday when figures showed exports rose 11.6 percent year-on-year in October, following a near 10 percent jump in September.

The numbers, which were released as the Communist Party holds its 18th Congress and prepares for a once-a-decade leadership transition, came a day after officials said Chinese industrial output surged last month.

However, while the world's number two economy continues to show signs of a resurgence Japan on Monday said gross domestic product had shrunk 0.9 percent in the July-September period from the previous three months.

It comes after Japan posted its worst September trade figures for 30 years as exports slumped, with analysts blaming the continued strength of the yen, a territorial spat with Beijing and the debilitating debt crisis in Europe.

"News at the weekend that the Chinese trade surplus hit a four-year high... has helped assuage concerns that the Chinese economy is slipping back," said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

In Paris shares in global advertising group Publicis rose by 3.30 pecent to 42.44 euros in morning trading after chief executive Maurive Levy had said late on Sunday that its activity had risen by more than 7.0 percent in October.


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