Greek default fears weighing on European markets

AP News
Posted: Apr 16, 2015 8:22 AM
Greek default fears weighing on European markets

LONDON (AP) — European stock markets fell Thursday amid renewed concerns over Greece's future in the euro currency. Chinese shares, though, staged a sharp rebound on investor hopes for more economic stimulus a day after gloomy first-quarter growth

KEEPING SCORE: European stocks slipped, with Germany's DAX falling 1.6 percent to 12,033 and France's CAC 40 dipping 0.6 percent to 5,222. Greece's main stock market, which has underperformed most of its European peers this week, was 0.8 percent lower. Britain's FTSE 100 edged 0.4 percent lower to 7,069. U.S. stocks were poised to open lower, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.4 percent.

GREEK JITTERS: Mounting fears of a Greek debt default sent the country's borrowing costs in the markets surging higher. The latest jitters were stoked by a report Thursday in the Financial Times that Greece made an "informal approach" to the International Monetary Fund to have its bailout repayments delayed. For investors, the report, though citing unnamed officials, was unsettling and the yield on Greece's 10-year bonds surged a whole percentage point to just under 13 percent. Greece owes the IMF around 1 billion euros ($1.06 billion) in repayments next month. Many in the markets think the Greek government will struggle to make those payments if it doesn't agree an economic reform package with European creditors soon.

ANALYST TAKE: "There seems little chance of talks being resolved," said Neil MacKinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital. "A debt default looms."

CHINA BOUNCE: The country's main stock market rebounded from losses the previous day, when the world's second-biggest economy posted its worst quarterly growth in six years. The 7 percent expansion in the January-March period was the weakest since the global financial crisis. Beijing has cut interest rates twice and rolled out targeted stimulus measures following signs that the downturn has been sharper than expected and investors are likely expecting more such boosting measures to come.

ASIA'S DAY: The Shanghai composite index surged 2.7 percent to end at 4,194.82, a day after it lost as much as 1.2 percent following the release of the economic data. Other Asian indexes had smaller gains, with Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index up 0.1 percent to 19,885.77 and South Korea's Kospi rising 1 percent to 2,139.00. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.4 percent to 27,739.71 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.7 percent to 5,947.50.

ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude eased oil slipped 96 cents to $55.42 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after the OPEC oil cartel said in a report that U.S. oil supplies would begin to decline in the second half of the year. The fall though has to be taken in the context of Wednesday's sharp $3.10 rise to $56.39, which represented the benchmark's high point this year. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.13 to $62.19 in London.

CURRENCIES: In spite of the concerns over Greece, the euro rose 0.5 percent to $1.0722 while the dollar was flat at 119.14 yen.