[LONDON] The chances of Greece leaving the euro zone this year fell on Thursday, according to bookmakers'betting odds, just three days before the deadline for keeping the country in the 19-nation bloc.
A sense of optimism that Athens and its creditors will reach agreement by Sunday's European Union summit lengthened the odds of a "Grexit" this year, Paddy Power and William Hill said.
But it remains a close call.
"No signs of Greece lightening up just yet but we're still odds-against at 11/8 on a Greek escape this year," Paddy Power said in a statement.
Odds of 11/8 imply a 42 per cent probability of Greece leaving the euro zone this year compared with odds of 11/10, or a 48 per cent likelihood, on Tuesday.
William Hill said its latest odds of a Grexit in 2015 stood at 13/8, implying a 38 per cent chance. On Wednesday, it offered odds of 5/4, implying a roughly 45 per cent probability.
William Hill also offered odds of 4/9 that Greece will still be in the eurozone on Jan 1 next year, implying a probability of 69 per cent. On Wednesday, its odds of 4/7 reflected a 62 per cent chance of no Grexit this year.
The latest betting patterns come as the Greek debt crisis enters its most critical phase yet. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras raced on Thursday to finalise a tough package with tax hikes and pension reforms due within hours if Athens is to win a new aid lifeline and avoid crashing out of the euro.
US bank Citi, whose economists coined the term Grexit in 2012, on Thursday said that is now its base case scenario. Citi joins a clutch of other big banks, including JP Morgan and Barclays, who now say Grexit is more likely than not.
Read more on the Greek crisis here