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Europe to Open Lower, Hit by Japan Quake Toll

European shares are seen opening lower on Monday as markets continue to look at the impact of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on Friday.

The Japanese stock market was down more than 6 percent as news spread of a hydrogen explosion at a nuclear plant in Fukushima.

The developments in Japan dragged down the yen, as well as Australian and South Korean shares.

According to BGC Partners, the UK's FTSE 100 index is to open 9 points lower at 5,819, while Germany's DAX index could fall 18 points to 6,963, and France's CAC index will lose 14 points, opening at 3,916.

European shares fell to a 2011 closing low on Friday. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top shares provisionally closed down 0.7 percent at 1,123.35 points, its lowest close since Dec. 31, 2010.

The biggest earthquake on record to hit Japanrocked its northeast coast on Friday, triggering a 10-meter tsunami that killed hundreds of people and swept away everything in its path

Oil prices are trading around two-week lows on the back of the Japan quake and ongoing unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.

A planned "day of rage" in Saudi Arabiafailed to materialize Friday despite a huge social media campaign. Security forces earlier flooded the streets of the capital Riyadh and other major cities to pre-empt possible clashes.

Finance ministers of the 17 countries that share the euro meet in Brussels on Monday evening to discuss the region's response to the sovereign debt crisis.

EU leaders agreed an unexpected deal in to assist Europe’s debt-laden economies, agreeing to strengthen the bloc’s €440 billion rescue fund and lowering the interest rates on Greece’s bail-out loans.

Leaders also backed a plan to use the rescue fund to buy sovereign bonds of struggling governments.

The meeting follows a gathering of European leaders about the situation in North AfricaFriday, and a summit of euro zone leaders later in the day to discuss a plan to boost the region's competitiveness.

The International Monetary Fund's executive board will discuss the latest report on the Greek economy Monday after it and the European Union agreed last year to bail out Greece.

January industrial production numbers for the euro zone are due at 10 am GMT. No other notable macroeconomic data is due for release.

Contact Europe: Economy

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