Asian shares jump, euro firms amid Italy aid hopes

TOKYO - Asian shares jumped and the euro firmed on Monday on hopes Europe will come up with some concrete steps this week towards activating a crucial euro zone bail-out fund and reports that the International Monetary Fund is considering helping Italy.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan rose more than 2 percent, after slumping to its lowest level since early October on Friday to mark a fourth consecutive week of declines.
Japan's Nikkei also gained nearly 2 percent after hitting its lowest in two and a half years on Friday.
Traders said sentiment was bolstered by a report in Italian newspaper La Stampa suggesting the IMF was preparing a rescue plan worth up to 600 billion euros for Italy, more than the fund can currently provide on its own.
A source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters that contacts between the IMF and Rome had intensified but added it was unclear what form of support could be offered if a market sell-off on Monday forced immediate action. Official sources in Rome said they were unaware of any request for assistance from Italy.
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