Asian Shares Rally, Cheered by Greece Elections
First Published Monday, 18th June 2012 01:05 am - © 2012 Dow Jones
-- Investors cheered by Greek election result
-- Nikkei up 2.2%, S&P ASX 200 rises 0.4%, Kospi 2% higher
-- Euro and Australian dollar higher on the news
The outcome of the Greek election sparked a rally in risk assets in Asia, early on Monday, as investors were cheered by the victory of the pro-bailout New Democracy party, pushing up both currencies and stocks.
The winning party has already started informal talks with the country's socialist party to form a new government, with a cross-party coalition likely to be formed by Wednesday.
New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, has already vowed to respect the country's commitment to a EUR173 billion ($218.6 billion) bailout agreement with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, and invited all the parties that support Greece's membership of the euro to join a national "salvation" government.
Stocks across the region opened higher: Japan's Nikkei gained 2.2%, Australia's S&P ASX 200 rose 0.4% and Korea's Kospi was 2% higher.
The conservative victory in Greece was quickly felt in the currency markets early in Asia, as concerns that the Mediterranean country will leave the euro zone dampened. The euro shot up to $1.2710 early in Asia, compared to $1.2640 late Friday in New York. The Australian dollar also received a boost, climbing to $1.0114 from $1.0014 late Friday in Australia. The dollar strengthened against the yen, to Y79.08, compared to Y78.70 late Friday in New York.
Oil was up 0.9% early on Monday, to $84.76 a barrel, while gold slipped 0.6%, to $1617.70 an ounce.
"I'm surprised that there wasn't more volatility or euphoria after what has transpired," said Paul Mackel, head of Asian currency research at HSBC in Hong Kong. "There is still some room for disappointment to come in. This is a small bright spot and it could fade briefly."
Investor jitters could come back if the coalition talks fail to create a strong government, or if attention once again turns to Spain's financial woes.
The "worst-case scenario is that New Democracy will have to form a minority government, which may not last the distance, leading to more uncertainty," said Geoffrey Yu, UBS director of FX strategy in London.
Investors will also be looking to see what policymakers decide at a series of key meetings this week -- such as a summit of G-20 leaders in Mexico and a meeting of the Federal Reserve. Another important point on the horizon is a summit of European leaders at the end of the month.
"Until we find out what the European leaders deliver at the summit at the end of the month in terms of broad progress toward a better-functioning monetary union, the downside risks from Europe are going to remain," said John Horner, Deutsche Bank currency strategist in Sydney.
Markets in other regions were already readying themselves for a rise, as stock futures climbed on Sunday night. Dow futures gained 47 points in Sunday evening trading, though stock strategists said that the futures market can be volatile in overnight trading.
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