China:Provides suprise stimulus
European shares hit seven-month highs and the euro rose on Monday, underpinned by a surprise stimulus move in China and signs Greece would secure a long-awaited bailout deal, though rising oil prices weighed on sentiment.
Trading is expected to stay subdued, with U.S. markets closed for a holiday, potentially exaggerating any price moves.
“News about China reserve requirements and, once again, hopes that (the euro zone) ...will reach an agreement with Greece are giving a positive opening to markets,” said Niels Christensen, FX strategist at Nordea.
“I think we will see a rally, but not a strong rally because we’ve been trading this topic (Greece) for a long time. Even if we get a deal there are still issues about (debt) restructuring and how the portfolio of Greek bonds at the ECB will be dealt with.”
The euro gained 0.5 percent to $1.3220, having risen as high as $1.3238 in Asian trade mostly on China’s decision to cut the amount of cash banks must hold in their reserves, with European traders expecting a Greek deal to bring only short-term gains.
Euro zone finance ministers are expected to approve a second bailout for Greece later in the day, a move they hope will draw a line under months of turmoil that has shaken the currency bloc and global financial markets, although there is work to be done to make the figures add up.
“If this (the Greek deal) does come to pass, we should see a short euro rebound, but we think that once markets realize that implementation risks abound, any rallies could fade,” analysts at Morgan Stanley said in a note clients.
China’s move on Saturday to boost its banking sector’s lending capacity in an effort to spur the world’s second-biggest economy, sparked a broad rally in riskier assets in the Asian session.
The move lifted copper and gold prices, which rose 1.5 percent and 0.6 percent respectively, and boosted the Australian dollar by 0.5 percent from late New York levels on Friday to around $1.0763.
China’s decision marked the latest effort by some of the world’s major central banks to lift lending and spur business activity.
It followed similarly unexpected stimulus action from the Bank of Japan on February 14 and recent policy easing measures by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England.
The moves are seen as the main factor behind the rally in global equities over the past two months and the rising optimism that growth in the giant U.S. economy is picking up.
Global stocks as measured by the MSCI world equity index .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.4 percent on Monday and have risen more than 9 percent this year.
The FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top European shares was up 0.6 percent at 1,090.01 points, the highest since early August as resource companies benefited on expectations China’s banking sector action would boost demand for commodities.
But analysts point to a another consequence of the flurry of policy easing moves - the rising price of oil - as a growing risk to the growth outlook.
J.P. Morgan Chase raised its 2012 price forecast for Brent crude by $6 to $118 a barrel on supply risks and rising economic growth. It also hiked its forecast for 2013 to $125 from $121.
Brent crude rose on Monday to above $121 a barrel, around an eight-month high, as Iran halted exports to Britain and France months ahead of a European Union embargo.