DECLINING credit quality in Europe and the United States is prompting more Western banks to turn to Asia in search of banks with solid balance sheets, deep pockets and good growth paths, according to Hong Kong analysts. They said Hong Kong and regional banks were in demand as potential counterparties for swaps, as credit concerns meant Western banks took a second look at a region they had largely ignored. A combination of the region's economic growth and concern about problems with credit assessment had pushed more Western financial institutions to seek help from rating agencies in finding partners in Asia. 'I think people are much more sensitive now,' said Edward Young, who runs the Hong Kong office of Moody's Investors Service. 'A number of people in banks want to use ratings as a benchmark for a broader range of activities.' This included debt instruments, which have become more popular in Asian emerging markets.