The Associated Press December 9, 2011, 4:09AM ET

World stocks flat after after new EU treaty

World stocks were subdued Friday after most European Union leaders signed on to a treaty aimed at shoring up the euro as they worked to find a solution radical enough to fix the continent's debt crisis.

Earlier in the day, a lower-than-expected inflation reading in China kept declines in Asian markets in check.

Crude oil fell below $98 while the dollar strengthened against the euro and the yen.

In early European trading, the FTSE 100 index of leading British companies was steady at 5,443.46 and France's CAC-40 was up 0.1 percent to 3,098.88. Germany's DAX fell 0.3 percent to 5,856.14.

U.S. stocks were poised to rise. Dow futures were up 0.2 percent at 11,937 while broader S&P 500 futures were up 0.3 percent to 1,233.50.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.5 percent to close at 8,536.46 after the government said the economy grew slightly less in the third quarter. South Korea's Kospi sank 2 percent to close at 1,874.75 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng tumbled 2.7 percent to end at 18,586.23.

Benchmarks in Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and India also fell.

Germany and France, the two biggest economies in the eurozone, had hoped to persuade all 27 members of the European Union to back a change to the EU treaty that would impose tight fiscal rules on its members -- a modification thought necessary to extricate the region from its debt crisis.

But after a late night of negotiations, Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, announced Friday in Brussels a new treaty: one that will include the 17 eurozone states plus six other EU countries -- not all 27 EU members.

The news follows disappointments from the day before, including comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on Thursday that the bank had no immediate plans for a large-scale purchase of government bonds, which would have kept down the borrowing costs of weak countries like Italy and Spain.

Investors had been counting on such a move to help ease the region's debt crisis.

European leaders, who want the treaty written by March, will meet again later Friday to work out treaty details and how violators of its strict budget rules will be policed.

"Markets regard the summit as a final chance to save the euro," strategists at Credit Agricole CIB said in a research note.

Mainland Chinese shares fell less than other Asian markets after inflation data for November fell to a less-than-expected 4.2 percent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index retreated 0.6 percent to close at 2,315.27, while the Shenzhen Composite Index lost 0.9 percent to finish at 961.81.

The reading means officials have more room to ease credit to support growth in the economy, but investors didn't think it would happen right away.

"It is true that the inflation data is lower than earlier forecast, but investors still prefer to wait and see if the government will ease credit to support growth, so the market might remain unstable for now," said Liu Kan, an analyst at Guoyuan Securities, based in Shanghai.

Andrew Sullivan, principal sales trader at Piper Jaffray Asia Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong, said authorities may wait until Chinese New Year, which starts on Jan. 23, to introduce more easing measures such as an interest rate cut because they didn't want it to be overshadowed.

"At present all the focus is on Europe," Sullivan said. "China, when it makes its move, will want it to be a bold statement, not a footnote to events in Europe," he said.

Mainland Chinese shares in environmental protection and real estate companies led gains, while shares in alcohol and media companies weakened.

Poly Real Estate gained 1.7 percent while property industry leader China Vanke added 0.7 percent. Tsingtao Brewery Co. lost 2.1 percent while Yantai Changyu Pioneer Wine Co. Ltd lost 2.3 percent.

Benchmark oil for January delivery fell 49 cents to $97.85 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $2.15 to end Thursday at $98.34.

In currencies, the euro weakened to $1.3332 from $1.3340 late Thursday in New York. The dollar was slightly up at 77.69 yen from 77.67 yen.


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