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Markets mostly up, euro dips as Greece talks drag on

The euro edged down on Monday but stock markets mostly rose as European leaders presented Greece with a painful set of demands to secure a debt bailout or face a eurozone exit.

[HONG KONG] The euro edged down on Monday but stock markets mostly rose as European leaders presented Greece with a painful set of demands to secure a debt bailout or face a eurozone exit.

Traders also took some support from figures showing a pick-up in Chinese exports that tempered worries about the country's economy and provided some stability to Shanghai stocks after weeks of fierce volatility.

During the high-stakes summit talks, 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 does not agree.

However, there was still no agreement early Monday morning despite more than 10 hours of talks, with Greece's economy and banking system at risk of imminent collapse.

Athens said the plans were "very bad", but with its lenders on the brink it looked to have little choice but to bow to reform demands that effectively rob it of control of much its finances.

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In Japanese trade the euro dipped but managed to stave off heavy losses as the talks continued in Brussels.

It eased to US$1.1125 from US$1.1149 in New York on late Friday. In earlier electronic trading, the single currency fell as low as US$1.1089. It was also at 136.40 yen compared with 136.58 yen in US trade.

"Market reaction in the euro is surprisingly muted," said Steven Englander, global head of Group-of-10 currency strategy at Citigroup.

"The absence of agreement and toughness of terms are eye-catching, but investors are waiting for the outcome more than trying to anticipate it." On share markets Tokyo was up 1.21 per cent, Seoul added 0.52 per cent and Sydney gained 0.41 per cent.

Shanghai rose 0.52 per cent, extending a rebound at the end of last week that came after weeks of extreme volatility, with investors settled by government moves last week to prevent a market crash.

But Hong Kong lost 0.50 per cent after climbing almost six percent over Thursday and Friday.

While Greece's future in the eurozone hangs in the balance, attention is also on China, which releases its crucial trade statistics later in the day.

China's stock market rose in the previous two sessions but dealers remain nervous after a month of massive selling that has seen the Shanghai Composite index fall about 30 per cent, wiping trillions of dollars off valuations.

Investors welcomed an upbeat trade report 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." But Sam Tuck, a senior currency strategist in Auckland at ANZ Bank New Zealand Ltd, added: "We've got a watching brief on China. 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.

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 delivery in August fell 80 US cents to US$51.94 and Brent dropped 87 US cents to US$57.86.

Gold fetched US$1,162.32 compared with US$1,163.50 late Friday.


Read more on the Greek crisis here

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