Euro slips, bonds bid as Greece drama drags on
By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY (Reuters) – The euro slipped in Asia on Monday while top-rated bonds caught a safe-haven bid as the Greek debt crisis seemed set to rumble on for yet another week while a key reading on economic growth loomed for Chinese markets.
The moves were mild, with investors wary of over reacting after having seen so many deadlines come and go with no resolution of the crisis in Greece.
Indeed, Japan’s Nikkei (.N225) managed to bounce 0.8 percent, while MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was just a fraction lower.
The single currency also quickly steadied at $1.1134 after an initial 0.5 percent drop to $1.1090 (EUR=). Likewise, the euro pared its losses against the yen to stand at 136.55 (EURJPY=) after an early dip to 135.40. The U.S. dollar barely budged against a basket of currencies at 95.957 (.DXY).
Demand for sovereign debt lifted U.S. 10-year Treasury futures 11 ticks, while the S&P E-MINI U.S. stock contract lost 0.5 percent (ESc1).
Aiding the euro were rumors the European Central Bank had agreed to delay a Greek repayment of 3.5 billion euros that had been due on July 20.
Hopes for some resolution to the Greek drama were dashed on Sunday when euro zone leaders told the cash-strapped Greek government it must enact key reforms this week to restore trust before they will open talks on a financial rescue.
Six sweeping measures including tax and pension reforms must be enacted by Wednesday night and the entire package endorsed by the Greek parliament before talks can start.
Asian investors will also be anxiously watching to see if China’s stock markets can stabilize after a barrage of government support measures sparked a much-needed bounce.
After a run of torrid losses the CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen ended the week with a gain of 5.7 percent.
Sentiment will be tested by economic data on China’s trade flows later on Monday, and the always sensitive gross domestic product report on Wednesday.
Forecasts are that the world’s second largest economy slowed to 6.9 percent last quarter, making it harder to meet Beijing’s target of 7 percent for the whole year. (ECONCN)
As if Wednesday were not already busy enough, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is also due to appear before the House Financial Services Committee.
Last week, Yellen said she still expected a rise in interest rates at some point this year, but repeated concerns that U.S. labor markets were weaker than desired.
In commodity markets, gold failed to get much of a safety bid, easing over a dollar to $1,161.80 an ounce (XAU=).
Oil prices were under pressure as Iran and six world powers neared an historic nuclear deal that would bring sanctions relief and thus more crude onto the market.
Brent crude was off 70 cents to $58.03 a barrel (LCOc1) and U.S. crude eased 60 cents to $52.14.
(Editing by Paul Simao & Shri Navaratnam)