MARKETS: Battle of currency markets begin as Asia battles Euro over Greek fallout

#AceMarketsNews – July.01: SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares made guarded gains on Wednesday as investors gave a resigned shrug to news Greece had become the first developed economy to default on a loan with the International Monetary Fund.

While an unwelcome milestone for Athens, it came as no surprise to markets after weeks of debt-talk brinkmanship and the euro faded just a fraction to $1.1140.

Brokers were also calling for modestly firmer openings for London, Paris and Frankfurt.

“There is so much uncertainty, speculation, truth and partial truth that many markets are in stasis; waiting to see which way this goes,” said Emma Lawson, senior currency strategist at National Australia Bank.

Calming after two days of wild swings, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan bounced 0.6 percent. Malaysian shares rallied 1.8 percent after Fitch unexpectedly raised the country’s outlook to “stable”.

Japan’s Nikkei added 0.4 percent, a second day of modest gains as it stabilises after Monday’s steep fall.

There was unexpectedly upbeat news from the Bank of Japan’s latest survey of manufacturers which improved in the three months to June, supporting the bank’s view that growth is gathering momentum.

The data was mixed from China where surveys showed sluggish factory activity but a pick up in service sector, a sign the transition to a more consumer-led economy remained on track.

Chinese shares got off to another erratic start, first diving before crawling back to flat through the session. The CSI300 index was last up 0.1 percent, while the Shanghai Composite eased 0.1 percent.

Both indices had jumped on Tuesday as Beijing’s efforts to stem recent selling seemed to gain traction. A combination of cuts in interest rates, allowing local government pension funds to buy stocks and talk of behind-the-scenes “window guidance” to institutional investors, have helped calm a skittish market.

On Wall Street, the Dow had edged up 0.1 percent on Tuesday, while the S&P 500 gained 0.3 percent and the Nasdaq 0.6 percent.

There was little immediate reaction when the International Monetary Fund confirmed Greece had missed a payment on its debt, perhaps taking it a step closer to an exit from the euro.

The IMF said Greece had asked for a last-minute repayment extension earlier on Tuesday, which the IMF’s board would consider “in due course.”

European finance ministers will confer later on Wednesday over Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ request for a new two-year loan to pay debts that amount to nearly 30 billion euros.

Investors still cling to hopes that a deal will be done at some stage to keep Greece in the euro, keeping currency markets relatively range bound. The U.S. dollar index was up 0.08 percent at 95.568, having bounced from Tuesday’s low of 94.847.

Against the yen, the dollar stood at 122.57, up from a five-week low of 121.93 plumbed on Tuesday.

In commodities, oil fell back after bouncing strongly on Tuesday to end the second quarter with hefty gains. Brent was quoted down 65 cents at $62.94 a barrel, while U.S. crude eased 84 cents to $58.64.

(Editing by Edwina Gibbs & Shri Navaratnam)

Asia shares gain as euro shoulders Greek burden


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