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Euro up after Greece agreement, Shanghai surges again

Friday, March 20, 2015 - 16:41
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The euro pushed higher on Friday after Greece's promise to provide new plans to reform its bailout, while Shanghai stocks continued their latest rally towards a seven-year high.

[HONG KONG] The euro pushed higher on Friday after Greece's promise to provide new plans to reform its bailout, while Shanghai stocks continued their latest rally towards a seven-year high.

Traders moved into the single currency after Greece's deal with its key European partners, who agreed to finish work "as fast as possible" on completing its EU-IMF rescue programme.

But while the dollar's rally against the euro and yen fizzled out, analysts said they expect the currency to resume its advance as the US Federal Reserve prepares for a rate hike while the Japanese and European central banks print more cash.

In equities trade, Tokyo swung from initial losses to end 0.43 per cent higher, adding 83.66 points to 19,560.22, while Sydney added 0.40 per cent, or 24.7 points, to close at 5,975.5.

Seoul was flat by the close, edging down 0.65 points to 2,037.24, and Hong Kong lost 0.38 per cent, or 93.65 points to 24,375.24.

Shanghai rallied 0.98 per cent, or 35.05 points, to 3,617.32. The market has climbed more than nine per cent following an eight-session winning streak and is now at its highest level since mid 2008.

Investors welcomed news that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had agreed to hand over a fresh package of reforms to its paymasters as his anti-austerity government tries to overhaul the terms of its bailout.

The left-wing Greek leader made the announcement after emergency talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and the European Union's top officials on the sidelines of a European summit in Brussels. He said the bailout was "back on track".

While the crisis is not yet over, the news will come as a relief to markets as an ongoing standoff over Athens' bailout has raised fears it will crash out of the eurozone.

In afternoon Asian trade, the euro bought US$1.0680 and 129.02 yen against US$1.0660 and 128.77 yen in New York Thursday.

The dollar was at 120.73 yen, compared with 120.80 yen in US trade.

The greenback has been on a rollercoaster ride this week after sinking in reaction to the Federal Reserve's lowered expectations for interest rates and economic growth.

That cooled talk of a rate rise in early summer, sending the dollar tumbling and stocks rising. At one point in New York Wednesday, after the announcement, it fell to 119.57 yen while the euro was at US$1.1010.

The US currency has since recovered, notching up gains over the past two days.

On Thursday the Dow eased 0.65 per cent and the S&P 500 shed 0.49 per cent, but the Nasdaq added 0.19 per cent.

"We're seeing a bit of profit-taking here," Hartmut Issel, the Singapore-based head of equity, credit and macro for the Asia-Pacific chief investment office at UBS Wealth Management, told Bloomberg TV.

"I wouldn't recommend to lose sight of the bigger picture. Yes, the Fed is currently a bit more dovish than we thought going into the meeting, but we are still talking about a very strong US economy, with a strong labour market." Oil prices fell further owing to lingering concerns about a global supply glut. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for April delivery fell 47 US cents to US$43.49 and Brent crude for May slipped 23 US cents to $54.20 in afternoon trade.

Gold fetched US$1,169.94 against US$1,164.38 late Thursday.

AFP

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