Asian markets and the euro surged yesterday after eurozone leaders struck a surprise deal to allow the bloc’s bailout fund to directly support struggling banks and pledged $150bn to boost growth.
The euro was up almost 1.2% after the agreement, which will allow emergency aid to crisis-hit Italy and Spain, was announced following marathon talks at an EU summit to save the ailing single currency.
Regional bourses, which had expected little from the summit, surged on the news, with Tokyo ending 1.50%, or 132.67 points, higher at 9,006.78, and Hong Kong closing 2.19%, or 416.19 points, up at 19,441.46.
Seoul finished up 1.91%, or 34.83 points, at 1,854.01, while Sydney ended up 1.23%, or 49.8 points, at 4,094.6. Shanghai closed 1.35%, or 29.59 points, higher at 2,225.43.
The accord struck in Brussels paves the way for the eurozone’s €500bn ($630bn) bailout fund to recapitalise ailing banks directly, without passing through national budgets and adding to struggling countries’ debt mountains.
But this would occur only after a Europe-wide banking supervisory body is set up, with leaders aiming for that to happen at the end of the year.
It was also agreed the bailout funds would be used “in a flexible and efficient manner in order to stabilise markets”, a reference to buying countries’ bonds to drive down high borrowing costs that have crippled Spain and Italy.
EU president Herman Van Rompuy hailed the deal as a “real breakthrough” that would calm financial markets and reshape the eurozone to prevent a recurrence of the debt crisis.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to have dropped her insistence on recapitalisation funds to banks being channelled through governments.
EU leaders also agreed a package of measures worth some €120bn they hope will bolster growth in the recession-hit bloc.
In a shock move, Italy and Spain had earlier threatened to block the “growth pact” unless they won concessions on short-term moves to help their economies.
But the head of the Eurogroup finance ministers, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, said early yesterday that the two countries had dropped their resistance in return for measures to stabilise their economies.
Investors had low expectations from the summit, just one of many attempts to resolve the long-running euro debt crisis, and the deal took Asian markets by surprise.
But analysts warned against over optimism. “It is a bit of relief, but it is not a game changer,” Wee-Khoon Chong, Asia rates strategist at Societe Generale in Hong Kong, told Dow Jones Newswires. “The market is quite thin and it might have overreacted.”
Elsewhere in Asia, Taipei rose 1.77%, or 126.67 points, to 7,296.28; Wellington was down 0.04%, or 1.51 points, to finish at 3,399.84; Manila closed 0.19%, or 9.74 points, at 5,246.41; Singapore closed 1.11%, or 31.63 points, higher at 2,878.45 points; Kuala Lumpur was 0.31%, or 4.91 points, higher at 1,599.15; Jakarta rose 1.75%, or 68points, to close at 3,955.57; and Bangkok edged up 0.07%, or 0.79 points, to 1,172.11.
from gulf times.