Euro weaker, US futures rise as Greeks endorse deal

[TOKYO] The euro maintained losses while US stock futures climbed as Greek lawmakers voted in favor of new bailout demands, damping concern over a break up in the currency union for now. New Zealand's dollar fell to a fresh five-year low.

The 19-nation euro was at US$1.0952 by 8:20 am in Tokyo after slipping 0.5 per cent Wednesday, while Standard & Poor's 500 Index futures gained 0.2 per cent. The kiwi fell to its weakest level since May 2010 after inflation held below the central bank's target, fueling speculation of further interest- rate cuts. Japanese stock futures rose in recent trading, while those on Chinese shares retreated. US oil held near a three- month low and copper futures dropped 0.2 per cent.

Greece's parliament endorsed the bailout without the support of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's Syriza bloc, as riot police tussled with protesters outside. The Canadian dollar led a selloff in commodity currencies Wednesday after the central bank cut rates for the second time this year amid the fallout from oil's decline. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen toed the bank's line in her congressional testimony, reiterating that borrowing costs will be raised gradually this year.

"Fed Chair Yellen stuck to her recent script," Sharon Zollner, a senior economist in Auckland at ANZ Bank New Zealand Ltd, wrote in a client note. "At this stage, September can't be ruled out for the Fed to consider kicking off rate hikes, but recent international uncertainty and mixed US data flow may stay the Fed's hand." Ms Yellen's comments bolstered the greenback, with the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index little changed in early Thursday trading after gaining 0.5 per cent last session.

The kiwi slipped as much as 0.4 per cent to 65.64 US cents after consumer prices rose 0.3 per cent last quarter from a year earlier, matching the median economist estimate though trailing the central bank's 1 per cent to 3 per cent target range. The currency sank as much as 2 per cent Wednesday after whole milk powder prices declined more than 10 per cent at a fortnightly auction. New Zealand is the world's biggest dairy exporter.

The Aussie traded at 73.76 US cents following Wednesday's 1 per cent retreat, with the loonie close to its weakest level since 2009 after the second rate cut this year.

In the equity futures market, contracts on Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average were up 0.6 per cent to 20,570 by 3 am in Osaka, while yen-denominated futures traded in Chicago added 0.3 per cent to 20,600. Futures on Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.1 per cent in most recent trading, and contracts on the Kospi index in Seoul fell 0.2 per cent.

Singapore-traded futures on the FTSE China A50 Index - which tracks the biggest mainland Chinese shares - dropped 0.7 per cent, while contracts on the CSI 300 Index slipped 4.4 per cent. Futures on the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, a gauge of Chinese equities listed in Hong Kong, dropped 0.2 per cent in recent trade, and contracts on the broader Hang Seng Index were down 0.1 per cent.

Markets in Indonesia are closed for a holiday Thursday.

West Texas Intermediate crude added 0.5 per cent to US$51.65 a barrel after sinking 3.1 per cent last session. Oil supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for US benchmark oil futures, rose for a third week, data Wednesday showed. While total US stockpiles declined, inventories were still more than 90 million barrels above the five-year average level.

Copper futures on the Comex fell a third day, dropping to US$2.5160 a pound. The Bloomberg Commodity Index lost 0.9 per cent Wednesday, as a strengthening dollar damped demand for assets from precious metals to oil.


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