ECB vow boosts Asian stocks, Europe rally fades

Asian stock markets climb after ECB chief vows to save euro but Europe's rally fades

BANGKOK (AP) -- Asian stocks charged higher Friday after the European Central Bank chief vowed to save the euro currency union from the continent's debt crisis and Samsung Electronics reported another record quarterly profit. European shares faded after the ECB comments sparked big gains a day earlier.

Markets have been roiled this week by fears that Spain, the fourth-largest economy among the 17 that use the euro, could need a bailout along the lines of Greece, Ireland and Portugal because its borrowing rates are high. That would strain Europe's finances and potentially cause the breakup of the euro.

Analysts say the shockwaves from a splintering of the currency union would likely tip the world economy into recession.

But sentiment turned brighter after the ECB's chief Mario Draghi pledged that would not happen, asserting Thursday that "the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro." That could involve buying government bonds to lower the borrowing rates of financially stumbling countries such Spain and Italy.

IG Markets strategist Stan Shamu said hopes for ECB action will remain elevated ahead of its scheduled Aug. 2 monetary policy meeting.

"The ECB will have to deliver at its central bank meeting next week. Simply cutting its refinancing rate is not going to be enough. It will need to announce something more substantial, or the euro runs the risk of getting smashed," he said in a commentary.

In morning European trade, Britain's FTSE was down 0.2 percent at 5,562.85 and Germany's DAX shed 0.5 percent to 6,547.77. France's CAC 40 fell 0.1 percent to 3,202.53. Wall Street was set to gain with Dow futures and broader S&P 500 futures both up 0.2 percent.

Asian markets also got a boost from Samsung's record-high quarterly profit. Customers flocked to Galaxy smartphones, in the April-June quarter helping it outdo rivals even at a challenging time for the global tech industry. Samsung Electronics vaulted 5.2 percent in Seoul.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average closed up 1.5 percent at 8,566.64 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 2 percent to 19,274.96. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.5 percent to 4,209.80. South Korea's Kospi climbed 2.6 percent to 1,829.16 and the Shanghai Composite inched up 0.1 percent to 2,128.76..

In energy markets, benchmark crude was up 17 cents at $89.54 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract crude rose 42 cents to finish at $89.39 in New York on Thursday.

The euro was down 0.2 percent at $1.2250. The dollar fell 0.2 percent to 78.15 yen.

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