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Asia: Markets rally as Greek debt deal agreed

Monday, July 13, 2015 - 16:35
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[HONG KONG] Asian markets rose on Monday as European leaders said they had agreed a debt deal to keep Greece in the eurozone, while Shanghai advanced for a third straight session after witnessing fierce recent volatility.

After a torrid few weeks for global markets, analysts said some confidence was returning, with comments out of Brussels indicating the five-month Greece crisis could be close to being resolved, while Chinese markets began to recover.

EU president Donald Tusk said an agreement had been struck between Greece and its creditors after 17 hours of high-pressure summit talks in Brussels.

"EuroSummit has unanimously reached agreement. All ready to go for ESM programme for Greece with serious reforms and financial support," Mr Tusk said, referring to the EU's bailout fund that will oversee the third Greek bailout since 2010.

Afterwards, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters Greece would not tumble out of the eurozone. "Grexit has gone," he said when asked by AFP if Greece's position in the single currency was still in danger.

Tokyo rose 1.57 per cent, or 309.94 points, to 20,089.77 and Seoul jumped 1.49 per cent, or 30.25 points, to 2,061.52.

Shanghai climbed 2.39 per cent, or 92.58 points, to 3,970.39 and Hong Kong was up 1.30 per cent, or 322.73 points, at 25,224.01.

However, Sydney gave back early gains to end 0.34 percent, or 18.8 points, down at 5,473.2.

Tokyo, Sydney and Seoul closed before the deal was announced.

The euro rose to US$1.1182 Monday from $1.1149 late in New York but soon gave back the advances to sit at US$1.1111.

It was also at 137.70 yen compared with 136.58 yen in US trade.

The breakthrough came after Germany and other eurozone leaders handed Greece a brutal ultimatum for desperately needed bailout cash Sunday, with Chancellor Angela Merkel pushing for a temporary euro exit - or "time out" - if it did not agree.

While Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras baulked at some of the detail in the proposals he hunkered down with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and EU president Donald Tusk to hammer out a final plan.

"The market had started pricing in fears we're going to see a terrible outcome from China and Greece, but we've started feeling more optimistic now," Koichi Kurose, Tokyo-based chief market strategist at Resona Bank, told Bloomberg News.

"Stock prices are reflecting hopes Greece will come to a resolution. China looks to have reached its lows." Shanghai extended a rebound from the end of last week after almost a month of heavy losses that saw it sink about 30 per cent, wiping trillions off valuations. Investors were settled by government moves last week to prevent a market crash.

About 400 firms began trading again Monday after almost half the market was suspended last week to prevent a further meltdown.

There was also some cheer from data that showed exports increased more than expected in June.

"Imports improved significantly in June because of lower import duties," said Liu Xuezhi, an economist with Bank of Communications Co. in Shanghai, told Bloomberg News. "Exports are expected to maintain modest growth in coming months to help the economy." However, the figures also showed two-way trade sank almost seven per cent in the first half of the year, well off the government's target of growth of "about 6.0 per cent" for all of 2015.

Despite the uptick in Shanghai, Sam Tuck, a senior currency strategist in Auckland at ANZ Bank New Zealand, warned: "It's positive that the authorities didn't feel the need to do anything over the weekend but markets are still clearly nervous and we need to see most of the stock market open.

"There's still lots of halts." The sell-off spread to other regional markets on fears for the world's number two economy and key driver of global growth.

On oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August delivery was down 95 US cents at US$51.79 and Brent crude tumbled US$1.06 to US$57.67 a barrel in afternoon trade.

Gold fetched US$1,154.66 compared with US$1,163.50 late Friday.

AFP