Euro soft, rescue fund in focus

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The euro was on shaky ground on Tuesday with no imminent decision in sight on how to beef up the euro zone's rescue fund, while Asian tech shares outperformed despite news that Apple Inc CEO Steve Jobs is taking medical leave.

Euro zone finance ministers on Monday discussed boosting the effective lending capacity of the currency bloc's bailout fund, but they made no firm decision and Germany, the biggest euro zone economy, said there was no rush to take action now.

The euro was near $1.3278 as of 0205 GMT, after having slid to a low of around $1.3243 overnight, well off a one-month high near $1.3460 set last Friday.

"The markets had gone a bit too far in expecting an increase in the rescue fund. German opposition (to the increase) seems quite strong and (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel may be reluctant to push it ahead of local elections," a trader at a Japanese bank said.

As worries over the euro zone's debt crisis linger, Greece's deputy prime minister said on Monday extending the repayment of the nation's debt could help the overborrowed country emerge from its debt crisis.

Stock market players wanted to see Wall Street's reaction to Apple's announcement, which knocked U.S. stock futures sharply lower on Monday when U.S. markets were closed for a holiday.

Japan's Nikkei average rose 0.2 percent 10,521.27, while the MSCI index of Asian shares outside Japan was little changed.

Tech shares outperformed, however, with the MSCI Asian IT index outside of Japan up nearly 1 percent.

Samsung, a rival to Apple in some business areas, jumped 2.7 percent, buoyed as well by regional gains in shares of memory chip makers after a newspaper report that Japan's Elpida planned to raise chip prices by about 10 percent.

Elpida rose 2.6 percent.

Investors were also closely watching the Shanghai Composite Index after it slumped a day earlier on China's decision to raise lenders' reserve requirements late last week. The decline weighed on bourses across Asia which have drawn considerable support from China's robust economic growth.

The key Shanghai index fell 0.7 percent in early trade after sliding 3 percent on Monday, but Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index managed to avoid the downdraft and rose 0.4 percent on hopes for stronger corporate earnings.

US crude futures stood little changed above $91 a barrel on Tuesday after falling the previous day when the dollar strengthened and a major Alaskan oil pipeline resumed full operations. Spot gold was steady at around $1,361 an ounce.

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