Stock markets advanced Friday on hopes that Greece would soon get its crucial second bailout and following another batch of upbeat U.S. economic news.
Investors are growing more optimistic that European finance ministers will sign off on the Greek bailout and a bond swap agreement with Greece’s private creditors at a meeting Monday.
Despite answering concerns over its commitment to tough austerity measures, the country has yet to clinch deals with its international creditors for a bailout worth (euro) 130 billion ($170 billion) and an accompanying (euro) 100 billion ($131 billion) debt writedown agreed with its private bondholders.
Earlier this week, markets had become vexed by worries that Greece could be forced into a disorderly default on a vital (euro) 14.5 billion ($19 billion) bond repayment due next month. A deterioration in relations between Greece and its partners in the eurozone, particularly with Germany, had prompted speculation that a default may be brewing.
However, sentiment over Greece has improved noticeably over the past day as investors bet that Europe will back the bailout, albeit reluctantly.
On Friday, France’s Finance Minister Francois Fillon told RTL radio that the Europeans must honor their commitments, now that the Greek Parliament and party leaders have met key conditions.
“We must do absolutely everything so that there is not a default by Greece, that would be dramatic for Greeks themselves and dramatic for Europeans,” he said. “The bankers accepted giving up 70 percent of the loans they made to the Greeks, the Europeans must now keep their commitments, that is the position that France is defending.”
Sentiment in the markets has been further buoyed by more positive U.S. economic data, particularly in the jobs market. Figures released Thursday showed jobless claims fell last week by a further 13,000 to 348,000, its lowest level since February 2008.
“Positive U.S. economic data and hopes of a conclusion to the Greek crisis is fueling positive sentiment in risk assets,” said Neil MacKinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital. “The Greek situation always has the potential for disappointment though as last-minute glitches seem to be part of the process.”
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.4 percent at 5,909 while Germany’s DAX rose 0.9 percent to 6,814. The CAC-40 in France was 1.1 percent higher at 3,429.
The euro was similarly firm, trading 0.3 percent higher at $1.3160 and Wall Street was poised for a solid, if unspectacular open — Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures were both up 0.1 percent.
Earlier in Asia, Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.6 percent to close at 9,384.17. Seoul’s Kospi rose 1.3 percent to end at 2,023.47 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 1 percent to finish at 21,491.62.
Chinese stocks ended flat after spending the day swinging between positive and negative territory. The Shanghai Composite Index was practically unchanged at 2,357.18.
Investors remain skeptical that authorities in Beijing will move more aggressively to prop up slowing economic growth by loosening credit curbs put in place to counter inflation and cool housing costs, Wong said.
Oil prices tracked equities higher — benchmark crude was up 53 cents at $102.81 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.