GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares steady, investors look to next phase of Greek deal – Reuters


* Spreadbetters see stronger opening for European bourses

* Debt deal a relief but Greece not seen out of woods yet

* Oil gives up gains made on cautious optimism over Greek
deal

* German Ifo survey, Yellen testimony in focus

By Hideyuki Sano and Lisa Twaronite

TOKYO, Feb 23 (Reuters) – Asian shares were flat on Monday
as many countries in the region returned from Lunar New Year
holidays, with sentiment supported by relief that Greece reached
a deal to avert an immediate fiscal crisis.

Euro zone ministers late on Friday agreed to extend Greece’s
financial rescue package by four months, a shorter extension
that the six months the country had sought. Relief over the
last-minute deal boosted Wall Street shares to record highs, and
was likely to jump-start European markets.

Spreadbetters saw Britain’s FTSE 100 and Germany’s
DAX opening about 0.5 percent higher, and France’s CAC
40 up 0.8 percent. The Greek stock market will be closed
on Monday for a public holiday.

“Friday’s agreement between Greece and the EU left both
sides claiming victory, as well as pushing stock markets in the
U.S. to record highs, and looks set to see European markets open
higher this morning with the FTSE100 potentially opening at a
record high,” Michael Hewson, chief strategist at CMC Markets in
London, said in a note to clients.

But Asian markets as a whole saw little follow-up buying
after the U.S. gains. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific
shares outside Japan was virtually flat from its
Friday close, after earlier drifting lower.

U.S. stock futures were also nearly flat in Asian
trading, but Japan’s Nikkei took a cue from Wall
Street’s Greek-relief rally to rise 0.7 percent and notch
another 15-year high.

“The debt deal is giving comfort to the market,” said
Masashi Oda, chief investment officer at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust
Bank, adding that investors’ risk appetite for Japanese shares
is mainly due to their attractive valuations.

Activity in Asia is expected to pick up this week as many
market players return from Lunar New Year holidays, with
mainland Chinese markets set to remain closed until Wednesday.

Oil prices wobbled, as cautious optimism about the Greek
debt deal struggled to offset supply concerns. Brent
pared gains and was slightly higher at $60.24 a barrel, while
U.S. WTI crude erased its earlier rise and dropped about
0.3 percent to $50.66.

Greece has to provide a list of reform measures to euro zone
by Monday to secure financing, but domestically it came under
attack for selling “illusions” to voters after failing to keep a
promise to extract the country from its international
bailout.

“Ultimately Greece has to carry out reforms but it is
uncertain given that the government has won by promising not to
reform,” said Hiroki Shimazu, senior market economist at SMBC
Nikko Securities.

The euro traded at $1.1377 little changed from
Friday’s late U.S. levels and within its well worn trading range
of the past few weeks centering around $1.13-1.15.

The yen was also steady for much of the session, trading at
118.95 yen against the dollar, after a rise in U.S.
Treasury yields after the Greek bailout agreement on Friday
helped the U.S. unit climb off a low of 118.30 yen.

Later on Monday, Germany’s Ifo business climate index is
expected to show a continued recovery in the euro zone’s
powerhouse economy.

Looking ahead, investors will focus on Federal Reserve Chair
Janet Yellen’s testimony on the economy and monetary policy
before the U.S. Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Although the minutes from the Fed’s last policy meeting
published last week were more dovish than expected, increasing
signs of strength in the U.S. jobs market could revive
expectations of a rate hike in June.

(Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Shri
Navaratnam)

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares steady, investors look to next phase of Greek deal – Reuters}

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