Over the last few months, the US President has been urging European leaders to take measures in an attempt to bring the economic crisis to heal.
Obama and Rajoy spoke for 30 minutes on Monday. Photo: EFE
President Barack Obama on Monday pledged US support for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's efforts to get Spain's economy back on track while acknowledging that the country faced "difficult challenges" amid the euro zone's debt crisis.
The White House said the two men spoke by telephone as part of Obama's ongoing discussions with European leaders on the euro zone economy. Obama has voiced concern that economic "headwinds" from Europe could undermine the fragile US economic recovery as he seeks re-election in November.
Rajoy inched closer on Friday to asking for a European Union bailout for his country, but said he needed first to know what conditions would be attached and what form the rescue would take.
Markets looking upward
Trading on Madrid's stock exchange resumed Monday after a five-hour blackout that was blamed on a technical problem.
The benchmark Ibex 35, which has been hugely volatile this year due to concerns about Spain's financial crisis, rose when trading began again, just before 3pm (1300 GMT). It closed the day 4.4% higher.
The breakdown didn't have major consequences, said Ramon Zarate, who heads a Madrid financial analysis company.
“The market came back and has been on a strong upward curve,'' he said.
Exchange spokesman Jesus Merino said technical problems had caused the breakdown in trading but he could give no further details.
Spain's stock market has mostly risen in the past week on hopes after the European Central Bank chief, Mario Draghi, said his bank was working on a plan to help lower borrowing rates for indebted countries like Spain.
The government is desperate to avoid having to seek a sovereign financial bailout but its problems are mounting. Debt is rising due to the cost of rescuing ailing banks and regional governments, while the economy is in recession and unemployment is near 25 percent.
The economic troubles of Spain and the wider 17-nation eurozone were among the topics discussed by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and US President Barack Obama during their 30-minute phone call on Monday, Rajoy's office said in a statement.
Rajoy told Obama about Spain's efforts to reduce the government deficit and the series of budget cuts that his administration has pushed through since the beginning of this year.