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Euro rises on Greek aid

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The euro posted its sharpest daily gain in two months on Monday and Asian stocks hit 22-month highs after a giant emergency aid plan for Greece boosted demand for riskier assets across the board.

In what may be the biggest multilateral financial rescue ever, the euro zone and the IMF threw debt-laden Greece a lifeline over the weekend by pledging at least 40 billion euros ($54 billion) in aid, though Athens has yet to activate it.

The euro jumped 1.3 percent to $1.3665 as investors reversed their short positions in the currency. It looked set to test $1.3817, its March 17 high, after breaching its 55-day moving average at around $1.3637.

The size of the rescue plan, which was on the high side of market expectations, eased worries about Greece defaulting on its debt in the near term and creating a domino effect on other countries with deep fiscal problems.

Investors have feared that Greece’s debt crisis and fiscal weakness elsewhere in Europe could threaten a steadily healing global economy. Data last week showed euro zone growth stalled in the fourth quarter last year, though other surveys showed it may have regained traction in recent months.

A raft of Chinese economic data due this week could add further evidence that the global rebound is picking up steam. China will release its first-quarter GDP report, with analysts forecasting growth of 11.5 percent from a year ago.

“We have a perfect recipe today: the news from Greece, Wall Street is positive and, together with the M&A activity, investors are encouraged to take risks,” said Chris Weston, a dealer at IG Markets in Sydney, referring to takeover activity in Australia.

Asian stocks, which had managed to grind higher in recent weeks despite uncertainty about Greece’s fiscal health, got a boost from the relief rally as well.

A strong performance on Wall Street on Friday also lent support after the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI crossed the 11,000 market for the first time in a year and a half.

The MSCI index for Asian stocks outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS climbed 0.5 percent to levels last seen in June 2008, while Japan’s Nikkei .N225 rose 1.1 percent.

U.S. stock futures also firmed, with S&P 500 futures up 0.4 percent.

Commodities also rose, though gains were exaggerated by a softer U.S. dollar on the back of the euro’s rally.

Oil rose 41 cents to $85.33 a barrel, while gold climbed 0.5 percent to its highest in four months.

London copper futures were firm and flirting with 20-month highs of over $8,000 a metric tone.

Higher-yielding commodity currencies also benefited. The Australian dollar hit a five-month high, while the New Zealand dollar was at its highest in 2- months.

Still, some analysts warned the cheerful tone in markets may prove short-lived as Greece is still saddled with a mountain of debt.

Greece owes more money than it earns from its annual output of goods and services. The country has 300 billion euros worth of debt, which is 1.25 times its annual gross domestic product.

“This move will help funding by Greece a bit more easier, but I don’t think the problem will disappear,” said Robert Rennie, chief currency strategist at Westpac in Sydney.

“The way the market is short euro, this could give the leg up to around the next technical resistance at $1.3820. But can it sustain a move higher than that, I am not sure.”

The euro has taken a beating from Greece’s fiscal woes. Even after Monday’s rally, it is still the worse performer among major currencies this year, having lost 4.8 percent.

Underscoring healthy demand for riskier assets, U.S. Treasuries were a shade weaker in early Asian trade.

Source: Reuters

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