Asian shares ride China bounce, euro up on Greek hopes
TOKYO – Asian shares and the euro gained on Friday as investors took heart from strength in recently volatile Chinese markets, and after Greece’s offer of a new reform plan raised hopes of a deal at a weekend summit of European leaders.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan extended early gains and was up 1.2 percent, but was still on track for a weekly loss over 4 percent in a period marred by a savage correction in Chinese stock markets.
Shanghai’s benchmark composite index was up 3.7 percent, while the CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen added 4.4 percent.
U.S. stock futures also rose, with S&P 500 mini futures jumping as high as 2061.75, up 1.0 percent from late U.S. levels. They were last up 0.9 percent.
Japan’s Nikkei stock index erased early losses and tacked on 0.4 percent, though it was still headed for a weekly loss of nearly 3 percent and remained below the psychologically significant 20,000 level.
Given its recent drop, the Japanese market’s valuations have become more attractive, which is drawing buying by retail investors and pension funds who usually buy stocks when they are falling, according to market participants.
“Most people think the worst is over,” said Isao Kubo, equity strategist at Nissay Asset Management. “Still, the Nikkei’s downside is expected around 19,000 if anything happens in China, but I don’t think we’ll see a further slide below that level for the time being.”
The euro extended gains, adding 0.4 percent to $1.1081, while the dollar gained 0.5 percent against the safe-haven yen to 121.88 yen.
The euro surged 0.9 percent to 135.06 yen, recovering from a six-week low of 133.30 yen.
Greece’s new proposals included a tax hike on shipping companies and scrapping tax breaks for its islands, as well as a higher value-added tax for restaurants and a firm timetable for privatisations.
The Greek government will ask for parliament’s approval on Friday to negotiate on the text of “prior actions” that could form the basis of a cash-for-reforms deal with creditors, a government source said.
Germany, Athens biggest creditor, also made a small concession on Thursday by acknowledging that Greece will need some debt restructuring as part of the new programme to make its public finances viable in the medium-term.
Hopes on a deal for Greece is likely to support Asian shares throughout the session, though many investors still need to feel assured that the plunge in Chinese shares that shaved about 30 percent off the market since mid-June is really at an end.
While Beijing’s increasingly frantic attempts to stem a stock market rout look to be finally paying dividends, with Thursday’s bounce followed by further gains on Friday, worries persist.
Investors are not sure if the worst is over in the short term, and the costs of heavy-handed state intervention in the stock market are likely to weigh on the market for a long time.
In commodities trading, crude oil futures were higher but remained on track for steep weekly losses. U.S. crude was trading up 0.7 percent at $53.17 per barrel, more than 6 percent below last Friday’s close. Brent crude was up about 0.6 percent on the day at $58.95 a barrel, but still more than 2 percent down for the week. –Reuters