Asian shares mostly higher following Greek bailout progress

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

TOKYO (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly higher Monday after Greece and its European creditors reached an agreement that staved off the immediate threat of bankruptcy and exit from the euro though hurdles remain to cementing the short-term funding deal.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.7 percent to 18,454.14 and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.3 percent to 1,968.21. Australia's S&P ASX/200 rose 0.5 percent to 5,908.00. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was little changed, at 24,806.19, after reopening following Lunar New Year holidays. Markets in Southeast Asia were mostly higher, and markets in mainland China were still closed.

GREECE'S DEAL: The four month extension averted bankruptcy and capital controls and ensures banks will have enough money to stock up their ATMs. But the Greek government must present economic reform measures by Monday that are deemed acceptable by creditors and rooted in Greece's previously enacted bailout agreement, which is something the government had promised not to do. Greece's new government has been agitating for more generous term for its international bailout after several years of punishing austerity.

THE QUOTE: "Greece is solved, so get involved as some say; but this is far from the truth," Chris Weston, IG chief market strategist, said in a commentary. "Judging by our client flows today, traders have been only modestly enthused by the agreement."

WALL STREET: The Greek deal swung the U.S. stock market higher Friday and drove it to a record high. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 154.67 points, or 0.9 percent, to 18,140.44. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 12.85 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,110.30. The Nasdaq composite rose 31.27 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,955.97.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil was up 5 cents to $50.86 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell $1.02 on Friday to $50.81. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was up 3 cents to $60.25 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.

CURRENCIES: The U.S. dollar fell to 118.97 yen from 119.06 yen Friday. The euro was unchanged at $1.1385.