Asian Markets Fall After European Elections Raise Concerns

Posted May 7th, 2012 at 3:05 am (UTC-5)
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Investors pushed major Asian markets lower Monday, following elections in Greece and France that raised concerns about the future of austerity measures put into place to help rescue ailing eurozone economies.

Japan's Nikkei index closed down 2.8 percent while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 2.7 percent in afternoon trading.

European markets also signaled sharp losses prior to opening Monday.

In France, voters elected as their new president Socialist Francois Hollande, who has pledged to push back against German-led austerity programs for troubled economies.

Europe has spent tens of billions of dollars on bailouts – twice for Greece, and once each for Ireland and Portugal – and has a new rescue fund slated to take effect in July. But to get the money, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund insisted the countries make sharp, unpopular spending cuts.

Greek voters backed anti-austerity parties in Sunday's parliamentary elections, leaving leaders the task of forming a new coalition government.

The European concerns follow weaker-than-expected jobs data from the United States released Friday.