Asian markets higher after EU debt deal

December 12, 2011
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On Friday, 26 of the EU 27 members backed tighter budget policing/FILE
HONG KONG, Dec 12 – Asian markets rose on Monday with investors cautiously welcoming last week’s agreement by European leaders to introduce tougher fiscal rules in a bid to save the eurozone.

However, traders remained nervous as Britain chose not to join the deal, while eyes will be on Standard & Poor’s, which last week warned the eurozone of a downgrade if it was unable to come up with a viable plan.

Tokyo rose 1.64 in the afternoon, Hong Kong gained 1.42 percent by lunch, Sydney was 0.95 percent higher and Seoul added 0.94 percent but Shanghai slipped 0.45 percent.

On Friday 26 of the EU 27 members backed tighter budget policing in a “new fiscal compact” to resolve the crisis threatening to crack apart the monetary union and send the global economy into another deep recession.

The 17 eurozone nations signed up to the pact – which gives the EU more power over national budgets – while nine non-members “indicated the possibility to take part in this process” after consulting their parliaments.

However, Germany’s hope for a treaty revision were dashed when Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron opted out of the plan by using his veto, saying he could not get the protection he wanted for the City of London financial centre.

“This provides a framework for medium term improvement in debt levels,” said Ric Spooner, currency strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

RBS head of domestic sales trading and execution Justin Gallagher said a European collapse was avoided but “that doesn’t necessarily mean Europe won’t continue to be a battle in the short-to-medium term”.

Some leaders hope the pact will convince the European Central Bank to drop its reluctance to use its full arsenal against the crisis after ECB president Mario Draghi called for a “new fiscal compact” last week.

Draghi dubbed the summit decisions a “very good outcome” for the eurozone.

Leaders also planned to pump 200 billion euros ($267 billion) into IMF coffers to help the eurozone, which is struggling to boost its own rescue fund to one trillion euros.

The ECB would act as an agent for the bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

The EFSF’s successor, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), will come into force earlier than first mooted in July 2012, with a lending capacity of 500 billion euros.

Standard & Poor’s is expected to pass judgement on the agreement this week after putting 15 of the euro-member states — including France and Germany — on downgrade warning.

The agency last week announced the bloc’s AAA status was on creditwatch citing worsening economic conditions and discord among leaders.

Robert Rennie, chief currency strategist for Westpac in Sydney, said: “The question we all need answered is will this loose pack stand the test of time or will nations just walk away from this agreement at the first hint of trouble.

“The markets will use S&P’s view as a report card on whether that was achieved.”

In Tokyo the euro bought $1.3345 and 103.62 yen on Monday, down from $1.3384 and 103.93 yen late Friday in New York where the common European currency rose on the EU deal.

The dollar was at 77.65 yen compared with 77.60 yen late on Friday.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for January delivery, dropped 12 cents to $99.29 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for January delivery fell 16 cents to $108.46.

Gold was trading at $1,695.20 an ounce at 0415 GMT, from $1,713.99 late Friday.

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