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Asia: Stocks up as Greece, China woes ease


[HONG KONG] Asian markets mostly rose on Friday after the European Central Bank boosted emergency aid to Greece and eurozone chiefs agreed a bridging loan to the country, while Hong Kong and Shanghai rallied as fears over a renewed mainland rout eased.

Buying was also given a bump by a record close on Wall Street, where investors were cheered by upbeat earnings, the easing of the Greek crisis and a stabilisation of China's markets after a month of plunges.

Tokyo added 0.25 per cent, Hong Kong gained 1.00 per cent, Shanghai rose 1.30 per cent and Wellington was 0.24 per cent higher, while Taipei put on 0.10 per cent.

Sydney was flat while Seoul slipped 0.53 per cent.

Singapore, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur are closed for public holidays.

The ECB on Thursday increased its lifeline to Greece, meaning the country's lenders can open on Monday for the first time in three weeks, while its head, Mario Draghi, threw his weight behind behind IMF calls for debt relief for Athens.

The European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, also agreed in theory to grant Greece a three-month 7.0-billion-euro (S$10.4 billion) bridging loan to keep its economy afloat until its new bailout is ratified.

And eurozone ministers agreed Thursday to start bailout talks, hours after MPs in Athens gave the OK to tough reforms, taxes, pensions and labour rules demanded by creditors.

"All of this uncertainty will require the ECB to maintain super-easy policies for even longer than was the case already," said Kit Juckes of Societe Generale.


On currency markets the euro softened to US$1.0882 from $1.0875 in New York and well down from the levels above US$1.1100 last Friday.

However, the unit rose to 135.13 yen from 135.00 yen as dealers bet on Japan introducing more stimulus to boost the economy after its central bank cut its growth and inflation forecasts.

The dollar also firmed to 124.20 yen from 124.14 yen in US trade and is also much stronger than the 122.70 yen at the end of last week.

Traders are shifting back to the US unit as the dust settles on the crises in Greece and China, and after Fed chief Janet Yellen said she expects rates to rise by the year's end as the world's top economy gets back into gear.

"China worries have died down and Greece is now a non- issue," Evan Lucas, a markets strategist in Melbourne at IG Ltd, wrote in an e-mail to clients. "The next month or two may be the first positive months since February," he said, according to Bloomberg News.

Chinese markets are slowly edging back up after a month-long sell-off that that saw them plunge by a third from their June 12 peak. The losses were only staunched by strict government measures introduced last week to prevent a meltdown.

The positive sentiment lifted US traders. The Nasdaq surged 1.26 per cent to a new record, the Dow rose 0.39 per cent and the S&P 500 gained 0.80 per cent.

On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August rose 21 cents to US$51.12 a barrel, while Brent for September, a new contract, advanced 24 cents to US$57.16.

Gold fetched US$1,143.97 compared with US$1,144.42 late Thursday.