Greek stocks soar, European stocks mark time

GMT 16:29 2015 Tuesday ,24 February

Arab Today, arab today Greek stocks soar, European stocks mark time

Greece's benchmark ATHEX index
London - AFP

Greek stocks surged Tuesday after Athens delivered to Brussels a list of proposed reforms that won it an extension of its financial lifeline, but Europe's main markets failed to gain traction.
Investors were watching for cues from US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen when she appears Tuesday and Wednesday for twice-yearly Capitol Hill hearings to provide the central bank's assessment of the US economy and when it will be ready to raise interest rates from near zero.
Greece's benchmark ATHEX index of leading companies rallied 8.85 percent to 929.73 points in afternoon deals after eurozone finance ministers backed a four-month extension to the country's bailout.
But Frankfurt's DAX 30 dipped 0.02 percent to 11,128.43 points and the CAC 40 in Paris slipped 0.19 percent compared with Monday's close to 4,852.98.
London's FTSE 100 added 0.27 percent to 6,931.00 points.
In foreign exchange activity, the euro dropped to $1.1320 from $1.1337 late in New York.
At the last moment Greece submitted reform proposals that include a raft of measures aimed at tackling corruption, improving efficiencies in tax collection, the social security system and government bureaucracy.
While the eurozone's finance ministers found that sufficient to approve extending Greece's 240 billion euro ($270 billion) bailout for four months, parliaments in several countries must also give their okay in the coming days.
Greece's current bailout programme expires on Saturday. If there is no extension, Greece's government risks running out of money and potentially triggering a run on its banks or even having to leave the eurozone.
But the International Monetary Fund, which has also contributed to Greece's bailout, criticised the Greek reform plan, saying it lacks clear signs that Athens will follow through on its promises.
In a number of areas, "including perhaps the most important ones," the letter proposing the reforms "is not conveying clear assurances that the government intends to undertake the reforms envisaged," said IMF managing director Christine Lagarde in a statement.
Analysts weren't impressed with the Greek proposals, put together by Greece's new anti-austerity government, which will raise taxes on businesses and strengthen the unions in collective bargaining.
"That is a significantly worse policy outlook than in November last year under the previous (Antonis) Samaras government," said Berenberg bank analyst Christian Schulz.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, London investors also pored over the latest company earnings news.
Global mining giant BHP Billiton said its first-half net profit almost halved to US$4.26 billion on the back of collapsing commodity prices.
The 47.4-percent slump in the six months to December 31 compared with US$8.1 billion in the previous corresponding period, with revenues dropping 11.9 percent to US$29.9 billion.
Underlying earnings -- which exclude one-off writedowns -- were down 31 percent to US$5.35 billion.
However, that was slightly better than analyst expectations, and sent the group's London share price soaring 5.79 percent to 1,636.50 pence.
Wall Street stocks opened mixed Tuesday ahead of widely anticipated congressional testimony by Fed Chair Yellen.
Five minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.07 percent to 18,129.57 points.
The broad-based S&P 500 slipped 0.05 percent to 2,108.53, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.21 percent to 4,950.56.


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