HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets mostly rose Friday after European leaders and Russia agreed a plan to end Ukraine’s 10-month war, while confidence Greece would reach a debt overhaul deal with its creditors boosted the euro.
The upbeat outlook for both of the crises plaguing Europe provided a catalyst for an equities rally in Europe and the United States, a mantle picked up in bourses across Asia.
Sydney rallied 2.33 per cent, or 133.90 points, to 5,877.5 as energy firms were boosted by a rebound in oil prices and the head of Australia’s central bank said it was unlikely to cut interest rates to zero.
Seoul climbed 0.82 per cent, or 15.87 points, to close at 1,957.50 and Shanghai jumped 0.96 per cent, or 30.41 points, to 3,202.83. Hong Kong added 1.07 per cent, or 260.39 points, to 24,682.54.
But Tokyo retreated from a seven-year high, slipping 0.37 per cent, or 66.36 points, to close at 17,913.36.
After 17-hour talks the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany on Thursday hammered out a blueprint to end the conflict between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels.
The ceasefire is to take effect at midnight Sunday (2200 GMT Saturday) in Ukraine and heavy weapons are to be withdrawn from front lines.
But while the deal was welcomed on all sides, leaders remained cautious, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying “I have no illusions, we have no illusions” and that “much work” remained.
The news pushed European stocks higher, with Frankfurt up 1.56 per cent, Paris adding 1.00 per cent and London 0.15 per cent higher.
On Wall Street, the Dow added 0.62 per cent, the S&P 500 jumped 0.96 per cent – both close to record highs – and the Nasdaq surged 1.18 per cent to levels not seen since 2000.
“People are looking at the glass half-full,” John Carey, a Boston-based fund manager at Pioneer Investment Management, told Bloomberg News.
“There’s general optimism around the US economy and a little bit of relief that some of the major international issues are not going to impinge just yet on positive trends here.”
Hopes for a breakthrough in Greece also provided support as the country’s new anti-austerity Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras presented his case for an overhaul of its aid programme to EU leaders including Merkel, the strongest opponent of his plans.
Tsipras said Athens would start technical talks with eurozone partners on Friday in a bid to find common ground before a last-ditch meeting of finance ministers on Monday.
Global markets are hoping a deal can be reached before the end of the month, when Greece’s bailout is due to expire. Failure to agree an extension would see it default on its giant debts and could mean it would crash out of the eurozone.
The European Central Bank also cheered markets when it increased the volume of emergency cash available to Greek banks, easing concerns over liquidity that had led to speculation of a possible run on the country’s lenders.
The euro bought $1.1440 and 135.90 yen, compared with $1.1406 and 135.70 yen in New York.
The single currency was given added support by news that Germany’s economy, Europe’s biggest, grew more than expected in 2014.
The dollar was at 118.90 yen early Friday, compared with 118.97 yen in US trade.
On oil markets, prices rose, adding to steep gains in the previous session fuelled by planned investment cuts by the world’s leading petroleum producers.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for March delivery added 50 cents to $51.71 while Brent crude for April was up 50 cents at $59.78.
Gold fetched $1,227.70 an ounce, against $1,223.20 on Thursday.