Asian markets stem earlier losses before close

Asian shares rallied slightly before close after fears over the credit rating of France had dragged markets down.

The European debt crisis overshadowed growth prospects in Asia.

Stocks pulled back from initial steep falls, with Japan's Nikkei 225 index pulling back from an opening fall of 1.8 per cent to close 0.79 per cent lower.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng just before the close was down 1.3 per cent.

South Korea's Kospi was up one per cent, reversing an earlier decline of close to four per cent. And Australia's ASX index also recouped earlier losses.