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 stabilization of China’s markets after a month of plunges.

Tokyo rose 0.25 percent, or 50.80 points, to 20,650.92, marking a five-day winning streak, while in afternoon trade Shanghai was up almost three percent and Hong Kong added 1.21 percent.

Sydney closed flat, adding just 0.5 of a point, or 0.01 percent, to end the week at 5,670.1 but Seoul dipped 0.53 percent, or 11.10 points to 2,076.79.

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 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 ($7.6 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 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.

‘Positive months ahead’
On currency markets the euro was at $1.0886 from $1.0875 in New York, although it has tumbled from levels above $1.1100 last Friday.

However, the unit rose to 135.05 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 was at 124.05 yen from 124.14 yen in US trade but much stronger than the 123.80 yen earlier Thursday in Asia.

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 percent to a new record, the Dow rose 0.39 percent and the S&P 500 gained 0.80 percent.

On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August delivery rose five cents to $50.96 a barrel and Brent crude for September, a new contract, advanced 16 cents to $57.08.

Gold fetched $1,144.85 compared with $1,144.42 on Thursday.



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