Asian stock markets slip, euro slides as weekend Greek debt talks appear to go nowhere

Energy Associated Press

Asian stocks slipped and the euro sank Monday as Greece inched closer to a possible default after weekend talks with international creditors over freeing up the rest of its bailout funds went nowhere.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.2 percent to 20,361.48 and South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.2 percent to 2,047.59. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.9 percent to 27,021.98. The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China dropped 0.5 percent to 5,142.57. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 retreated 0.5 percent to 5,515.20. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and New Zealand also fell.

GREEK DRAMA: Weekend negotiations on Greece's bailout terms produced no breakthroughs and Greek officials and creditors remained far apart as a deadline for a debt payment nears. Greek leaders want to get access to the final 7.2 billion euros ($8.2 billion) of the 240 billion euro bailout that's needed to repay debts and avoid a possible default that could trigger an exit from the euro; the bailout package expires at the end of the month. But investors are growing nervous at signs of scant progress in talks with creditors, including fellow eurozone states, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, on new economic reforms required before the money is doled out.

THE QUOTE: "We have always argued that a Greek deal would only occur at one minute to midnight," Michael Every, Rabobank's head of Asia-Pacific financial market research, wrote in a commentary. "Yet it now looks like 23:58 and counting."

CURRENCIES: The euro faltered on news of the Greek debt impasse, falling nearly 0.5 percent to $1.1207 from $1.1260 in late trading Friday. The dollar strengthened to 123.46 yen from 123.39 yen.

WALL STREET: Major U.S. stock indexes closed lower on Friday on the European uncertainty. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.8 percent to 17,898.84 and the S&P 500 slipped 0.7 percent to 2,094.11. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.6 percent to 5,051.10.

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ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil extended losses, falling 26 cents to $59.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract hit a high for the year on Wednesday but has been falling since then and on Friday it sank 81 cents to settle at $59.96 a barrel. Brent crude, an international benchmark, dropped 34 cents to $64.30 a barrel.