Asia markets rise on Greek debt hopes
Asian markets rose on Wednesday, tracking gains on Wall Street amid growing hopes that Greece will reach a bailout deal with creditors on its massive debt, and avoid a much-feared default.
The euro also got a boost after reports that a final debt rescheduling deal had been drafted and may be signed as a general strike gripped the nation, with demonstrators protesting against unpopular wage and pension cuts.
Tokyo was up 0.69 percent in morning trade, Sydney gained 0.28 percent while Seoul was trading 0.86 percent higher.
Hong Kong rose 0.66 percent in morning trade while Shanghai shares also moved into positive territory, inching up 0.26 percent.
Athens is treading water over an agreement with private lenders to cut part of its 350-bn-euro ($460-bn, Dh17.07tr) debt, with big loan repayments due next month raising fears it will not be able to pay its bills.
The impasse sparked a terse rebuke from French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said it was time for Greece to take action on its fiscal problems.
On Tuesday, European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso, was quick to insist that Athens would stick with the euro, amid fears of a fiscal implosion with the nation tumbling out of the currency bloc.
"We want Greece in the euro," Barroso said. "The cost of a Greek exit from the eurozone would be higher than the cost of continuing to support Greece."
He added that Athens was "very close" to a debt rescue deal, which includes a new bailout and banks taking losses on their bond holdings.
"We expect tight ranges to continue, possibly until we get a definitive solution from Greece," IG Markets chief market analyst Stan Shamu in Melbourne told Dow Jones newswires.
Russell Jones, a strategist at Westpac in Sydney, added that: "Whatever Greece signs up to this week, the European sovereign crisis is far from over. Further rounds of market turbulence are to be expected."
Asian markets took a lead from Wall Street, which ended higher on Tuesday on hopes for action on the eurozone's debt crisis and growing optimism that a stronger US job market signalled a recovery for the world's number one economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.26 percent, the broad-based S&P 500 added 0.20 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was flat.
Still, traders also kept an eye on Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who in testimony to the Senate Budget Committee reiterated his concerns about high levels of US unemployment just days after a surprisingly large drop in the jobless rate.
Investors cheered better-than-expected earnings from Coca-Cola and fast-food giant Yum! Brands, owner of the Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut chains.
In Tokyo, government data showed Japan's current account surplus tumbled to a 15-year low in 2011 as the nation logged a trade deficit due to lower exports and higher energy costs.
Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto meanwhile said it would pump a further $3.4 billion into
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