Euro picks up after Greek finance minister resigns

News that Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is resigning has seen the euro rise on Monday, July 6, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - The euro rose Monday after Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis announced his shock resignation, just hours after the cash-strapped nation rejected creditors' austerity demands in a landmark weekend referendum.

In Tokyo, the unit fetched US$1.1088 from around US$1.1027 before the announcement, and after dropping to US$1.0963 in New York electronic trade Sunday in response to the vote, which increases the chances Greece will crash out of the eurozone.

The single currency also picked up to 135.46 yen from 134.82 yen earlier Monday.

The combative Varoufakis - who has been at the centre of Athens' high-profile debt negotiations for months - clashed with Greece's creditors and refused to bow to their demands for tough austerity.

While the referendum was a victory for the government, Varoufakis suggested he could be an impediment to future debt talks.

"Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted 'partners', for my... 'absence' from its meetings," Varoufakis wrote.

It was "an idea that the Prime Minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today."

Despite the pick-up in Asia, the euro was still down from Friday's levels with investors flocking to the Japanese currency, a safe haven in times of turmoil.

In other trading, the US dollar weakened to 122.52 yen from 123.05 yen on Friday.

"It's hard to see how risk assets can rally for an extended period in this kind of toxic environment, at least in the near-term," said Chris Tedder, a research analyst at in Sydney. "We need more clarity on how this is going to play out."

There were widespread fears that the euro would plunge in the aftermath of a "No" vote, but analysts said investors were trying to work out the broader impact of Sunday's vote.

"There is no particular reason for the euro to be holding up, but markets are still assessing the spill-over risks in the case of a Greek exit from the eurozone," said Shinya Harui, currency analyst at Nomura Securities in Tokyo.

"I personally think the chance (of the Greek exit) is very high, at around 70-80 per cent," he added.

"A Greek exit would shake confidence in what had been 19-nation solidarity, which could fuel anti-euro movements within Europe."

As Greece was unable to repay a key International Monetary Fund debt, it cannot borrow money from global institutions and will be shut out of financial markets, Harui warned.

"Inflation risks (in Greece) are very high... People voted 'No' without being fully aware of the ensuing risks," he said.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had campaigned against accepting debt reform proposals from Greece's creditors - the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - claiming a "No" vote would strengthen his hand in negotiations.

But Jeroen Dijsselbloem, leader of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, who had warned ahead of the poll that a "No" vote would likely lead to Greece exiting the single currency, described the result as "very regrettable".

"The 'No' vote is the worst possible outcome from an 'uncertainty' perspective," said Ray Attrill, global co-head of forex strategy at National Australia Bank.

In other trading, risk aversion weighed on some emerging market currencies.

The dollar rose to 13,360 Indonesian rupiah from 13,306 rupiah on Friday, to 63.59 Indian rupees from 63.37 rupees and to 33.85 Thai baht from 33.78 baht.

The greenback also climbed to S$1.3513 from S$1.34991, to 125.70 Korean won from 1,120.83 won, to 45.13 Philippine pesos from 45.11 pesos and to Tw$30.94 from Tw$30.88.

It rose to a multi-year high of RM3.8085 from RM3.7775 ringgit.

The Australian dollar fell to 74.82 US cents from 75.84 cents while the Chinese yuan slipped to 19.69 yen from 19.82 yen.

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