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Tokyo: Stocks open 0.77% lower


[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks opened 0.77 per cent lower Monday, hit by a firmer yen and sharp drops in New York shares last week on fresh worries over a Greek default.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange fell 151.88 points to 19,501.00 at the start of the session.

The dollar remained weak early Monday after falling on Friday, pressuring Japanese exporters.

The greenback fetched 118.83 yen early Monday, hardly changed from 118.86 yen in New York late Friday but down from 119.00 yen in Tokyo earlier Friday.

The euro held up after French Finance Minister Michel Sapin indicated he would like to see the single currency stabilise at its current level, saying it would be dangerous to let it fall any lower.

The euro bought US$1.0802 and 128.42 yen on Monday against US$1.0810 and 128.49 yen in US trade on Friday.

US stocks tumbled Friday on fresh worries about Greece. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 1.54 per cent while the broad-based S&P 500 fell 1.13 per cent.

Greece was told Saturday to urgently deliver a detailed fiscal and debt plan to official lenders as the IMF-World Bank spring meetings wound up amid escalating worries over a looming default.

With Greece seeking the release of another 7.2 billion euros (US$7.8 billion) in bailout funds from the European Union, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi cautioned that not reaching an agreement would take the situation into "uncharted waters." Greece's deputy prime minister Ioannis Dragasakis said in an interview published Sunday in the weekly To Vima that Athens would stand firm in negotiations with its creditors.

"There is no way we would cross red lines that we have set," he said, while refusing to rule out the possibility of new elections or a referendum if the talks remained deadlocked.

Both sides are seeking to do a deal before eurozone finance ministers meet on April 24.


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