By PAMELA SAMPSON
BANGKOK - Asian stock markets struggled to make headway Thursday as the lack of a breakthrough in Europe's attempts to shake off its debt crisis kept sentiment gloomy.
Worries over Greece intensified after European leaders adjourned a summit without taking concrete measures to prevent Europe's debt crisis from exploding and Greece from making a messy exit from the region's shared currency.
The likelihood of Greece leaving the euro has been growing since early May, when political parties opposed to the terms of the country's financial rescue deprived pro-austerity parties of a majority at the polls. New elections are planned for next month.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 was marginally down at 8,550.62 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.2 percent to 18,749.19.
"We expect markets to be under pressure in the very short term as the European crisis is the biggest threat to market and economic stability," analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in an email.
But the trading mood in Asia could improve because China, the world's No. 2 economy, was expected to embark shortly on new measures to help stimulate growth.
"China seems concerned enough about its own growth slowdown and downside risks coming from the European crisis that it will do more to stimulate its economy, even pre-emptively," the analysts wrote.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.1 percent to close at 12,496.15. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.2 percent to 1,318.86. The Nasdaq rose 0.4 percent to 2,850.12.
Benchmark oil for July delivery was up 83 cents to $90.73 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.95 to settle at $89.90 in New York on Wednesday. Brent crude for July delivery was up 99 cents at $106.55 per barrel in London.
In currency trading, the euro fell slightly to $1.2571 from $1.2573 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar was steady at 79.47 yen.
A service of YellowBrix, Inc.