May 24 - Asian stocks flat to lower after EU Summit ends without clear measures to tackle the bloc's problems.
EU leaders are unanimous about wanting Greece to stay in the euro zone, but left the summit no closer to agreement on how to fix the bloc's problems. New French president Francois Hollande played down a widely reported rift with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying the meeting served to exchange ideas and expand on positions. Hollande supports the idea of a joint bond to help fix the euro zone's debt crisis, but Merkel does not. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE SAYING: "I respect Mrs Merkel's point of view when she says euro bonds are not an instrument of growth in themselves. It is a tool that could under certain conditions lead to growth. So it's an ongoing debate. It couldn't be concluded here and no one thought it would be. So there was not a conflict or a confrontation if that is what you expected. Everyone gave their opinion." Germany supports growth but insists Athens and other debt-laden members must stick to strict austerity targets. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL SAYING: "We want Greece to stay in the euro, but we insist that Greece sticks to commitments that it has agreed to, that the memorandum of understanding is fulfilled. We have offered to do everything to make it possible for structural funds to help Greece return to growth, as a positive message, but Greece has to fulfill its commitments." Asian markets were volatile on the lack of concrete measures to fix Europe's debt crisis. Shares outside Japan shed as much as 0.5 percent, with Hong Kong stocks trading in a 150 point range. Mainland linked stocks were the top losers after fresh data showed continuing weak factory activity in China. Sydney stocks reversed early gains as miners slipped on the cooling factory data. Analysts say until European leaders work out specific schemes to stabilise fragile banking systems, it will be hard to build positions in risk assets. Arnold Gay, Reuters.