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Big Gains for Asian Stocks, Europe Opens Higher


Asian markets closed sharply higher Monday, as two more major economies make moves to prop up struggling banks.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Australia's key (S&P/ASX) market both closed up more than four percent, while Tokyo's Nikkei rose 3.5 percent. South Korean shares (Kospi) were up more than two percent, posting a gain for the first time in four trading days.

Major European markets were up about two percent in morning trading.

South Korea said Sunday it will guarantee up to $100 billion in foreign debts held by the country's banks. The government also said it will provide the banks with $30 billion in direct funds.

Also Sunday, the Netherlands said it will inject $13 billion into Dutch-based ING, one of the world's 20 largest banks. ING warned Friday it expects a quarterly loss of $670 million because of the global credit crisis.

Dutch Finance Minister Wouter Bos said ING is a "healthy" business despite the need for a government cash injection.

On Saturday, U.S. President George Bush and visiting European leaders agreed to hold a series of summits aimed at reforming the global financial system.

Mr. Bush, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the first summit will focus on reaching "principles of reform" to ensure future prosperity. Later summits will develop specific steps to meet those goals.

Mr. Bush's top economic advisor, Ed Lazear, said Sunday that unemployment will rise in some parts of the U.S. in the coming months. But, he said the U.S. economy is showing "amazing" resilience overall.

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