Asian stocks rise as Greek parliament passes austerity-for-bailout bill

A woman holding a bicycle looks at an electronic stock board outside a security firm in Japan.
A woman holding a bicycle looks at an electronic stock board outside a security firm in Japan. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Asian stocks rose after Greek lawmakers passed a bailout agreement that keeps the country in the euro for now as the European Central Bank weighs whether to pump more money into Greece.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.2 per cent to 143.71 as of 9:03 a.m. in Tokyo. Greece's parliament endorsed the bailout without the support of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's Syriza bloc, as riot police tussled with protesters outside. The new austerity measures are a precondition for as much as 86 billion euros (S$129 billion) in aid. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen was upbeat on the economy and repeated that the Fed will probably raise its main interest rate this year.

"It looks like we could put Greece on the back burner for a while," said Keith Poore, who helps manage US$131 billion as head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd. in Wellington.

"There's more upside to risk assets given the fundamental backdrop of improving global growth over the next six months. There's still a little bit of uncertainty on Chinese equities but ultimately its much more important for investors that China's economy is improving."

China's economic growth proved resilient in the second quarter as policy makers stepped up support and a stock market boom - since soured - spurred services. Industrial output in June rose 6.8 per cent, while fixed-asset investment increased 11.4 percent in the first half, beating estimates, the National Bureau of Statistics data also showed. Retail sales increased 10.6 per cent in June, topping a median forecast of 10.2 per cent.

Chinese stocks fell for a second day on Wednesday after better-than-expected economic data failed to boost investor confidence in the world's worst-performing equity market over the past month. The Shanghai Composite Index slid 3 per cent on Wednesday, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index declined 1.8 per cent.

Japan's Topix index rose 0.5 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.3 per cent. New Zealand's NZX 50 Index advanced 0.2 per cent. South Korea's Kospi index was little changed. Markets in China and Hong Kong have yet to open.

E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.1 per cent today. The underlying gauge slipped 0.1 on Wednesday.

The probability of the Fed raising rates at its September meeting slipped to 27 per cent, down from 35 per cent on Monday, futures data compiled by Bloomberg showed. For December, the odds of a hike fell to 63 per cent from 69 per cent. Fed officials in June forecast the central bank would raise borrowing costs twice this year.