Asia up on Wall Street rise and Greece relief, dollar extends gains
TOKYO – Asian shares opened higher on Friday, aided by a higher Wall Street and eased tensions over Greece, while the dollar extended gains versus the euro and yen as economic indicators bolstered expectations for a US rate hike by year-end.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.1 percent. The performance of volatile Chinese stocks, which start trading later in the day, will be watched to see if recent gains are kept.
Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.2 percent on a softer yen, while South Korea’s Kospi climbed 0.5 percent. Australian shares were little changed.
Wall Street gained overnight, with the Nasdaq up more than 1 percent to a record high after earnings reports from eBay and Netflix boosted optimism.
Moves in Europe on Thursday to reopen funding to near-bankrupt Greece also improved risk sentiment. Greece will receive bridge loans, enabling it to make a bond payment to the European Central Bank on Monday and clear arrears with the International Monetary Fund.
The lessening of foreseeable Greek risk also continued to push the euro lower, with focus back on U.S. and European monetary policy divergences.
“We have some sympathy with the argument that ‘Grexit’ would at least have resolved the doubts over Greece’s position and that the euro should eventually end up stronger without its weakest member,” analysts at Capital Economics wrote.
“The corollary is that a temporary deal which keeps Greece in the euro but fails to tackle the bigger issues, notably the need for a massive write-down of debt, simply prolongs the uncertainty and keeps the currency on the defensive.”
The euro hovered close to a seven-week low of $1.0855 it tumbled to overnight. The dollar touched a three-week high of 124.205 yen, receiving a boost against its peers after Thursday’s lower U.S. jobless claims reinforced market expectations for a rate hike this year.
The dollar index stood at 97.664 after surging to a seven-week peak of 97.756 overnight.
In commodities, U.S. crude edged up 0.2 percent to $51.00 a barrel after giving up most of its gains overnight, reacting to data from industry intelligence firm Genscape showing higher crude inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma, hub. -Reuters