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Soft Start Called For Asian Markets On Monday

The Asian stock markets are expected to open lower on Monday, with investors likely locking in gains after rallying on Friday. Concerns from Europe's financial sector add to the cautious sentiment.

Data showed that Spanish banks stepped up their borrowings from the European Central Bank in March after it announced the second long-term refinancing operation in a bid to ease credit crunch - likely putting considerable pressure on financials.

The Asian markets also may continue to react to disappointing economic news from China. The Chinese National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday that Chinese economic growth slowed to 8.1 percent in the first quarter from 8.6 percent in the fourth quarter. Economists had expected a more modest slowdown to 8.4 percent.

The major U.S. averages ended lower on Friday as the Dow slid 136.99 points or 1.1 percent to finish at 12,849.59, while the NASDAQ tumbled 44.22 points or 1.5 percent to end at 3,011.33 and the S&P 500 fell 17.31 points or 1.3 percent to 1,370.26.

The major European markets also were down on Friday. The DAX of Germany declined by 2.36 percent and the CAC 40 of France dropped by 2.47 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. lost 1.03 percent and the SMI of Switzerland closed down by 0.87 percent

The Asian markets were higher on Friday as Hong Kong's Hang Seng surged 1.84 percent, while Taiwan soared 1.64 percent, Japan's Nikkei climbed 1.19 percent, South Korea's KOSPI spiked 1.12 percent, Australia added 0.97 percent, Indonesia gained 0.48 percent, China's Shanghai Composite collected 0.35 percent, Singapore's Straits Times rose 0.33 percent and New Zealand gained less than a point.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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