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Morning Market Roundup: Greece Asks for More Time, China's Solar Industry Is Suffering, German Bank Rules


Here’s what’s important in the business world this morning:

Greece: Greece needs more time to implement tough financial reforms and spending cuts, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras says as he starts the first of a series of top-level European meetings to discuss his debt-ridden country's international bailout.

Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the Eurogroup, the body representing the finance ministers of the 17 countries that use the euro, travels to Athens Wednesday afternoon for talks with Samaras and his finance minister, Yannis Stournaras. The Greek premier then heads to Berlin later this week to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on to Paris to see French President Francois Hollande.

Greece is dependent on two international rescue loan packages from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund, which are preventing it from bankruptcy and potentially having to leave the euro.

In return, it has had to impose strict austerity measures, including cuts to salaries and pensions and repeated tax hikes. But Athens has faltered in the speed and effectiveness with which it has implemented the reforms, fuelling impatience by its creditors, notably Germany, which is the single largest contributor to the bailout.

The so-called "troika" of debt inspectors that oversee Greece's bailout program - the European Union, European Central Bank and the IMF - are due in Athens next month to assess how well the country has stuck to the terms of the deal.

Germany: Germany has begun the process of ratifying new rules requiring banks to build higher capital defenses against financial shocks - and hopes other European countries will quickly follow suit.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet approved draft legislation Wednesday to implement the so-called Basel III rules requiring lenders to gradually increase their highest-quality capital from 2 to 7 percent of the risky assets they hold.

EU finance ministers agreed to adopt the rules in May but negotiations with the European Parliament to finalize details are continuing. German officials want to finish that process soon so the rules can take effect Jan. 1, 2013.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the German move is "a signal of how important we consider the issue" and added: "I hope our partners in Brussels feel this urgency."

China: Chinese solar panel makers that grew fast over the past decade are suffering big losses due to slumping global sales and a price war that threaten an industry seen by communist leaders as a role model for hopes to transform China into a technology leader.

Another looming challenge: Moves by the United States and Europe toward imposing possible anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels that might further depress sales.

Financial problems are likely to force painful changes in the Chinese industry including possible mergers, bankruptcies, factory closures or layoffs, industry analysts say.

Five major Chinese manufacturers, including industry leaders Suntech Power Holdings Ltd. and Yingli Green Energy Ltd., reported total losses of nearly $250 million in the latest quarter. One of them, LDK Solar Co., also reported an eye-popping loss of $588.7 million the previous quarter.

U.S. Futures: U.S. futures traded modestly lower Wednesday, following the trend in worldwide markets.

Dow Jones industrial average futures dipped 0.2 percent to 13,170. Standard & Poor's 500 futures slid 0.3 percent to 1,408.60, and Nasdaq 100 futures gave up 0.2 percent to 2,768.75. Britain's FTSE 100 index was down 1.2 percent. Germany's DAX dropped 0.9 percent, and France's CAC 40 slipped 0.9 percent.

At 2 p.m. Eastern time, the Federal Reserve will release the minutes from its rate-setting Open Market Committee's last meeting. Investors will search the documents for hints of any upcoming moves to stimulate the economy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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