Asian shares ride China bounce, euro soars on Greek hopes

China Relief Fuels Wall Street Gains
China Relief Fuels Wall Street Gains

Asian shares and the euro gained on Friday as investors took heart from strength in recently volatile Chinese markets, and after Greece's offer of a new reform plan raised hopes of a deal at a weekend summit of European leaders.

Chinese stocks rallied for a second day, buoyed by a raft of Beijing's support measures and appeared to calm investors after panic-selling slashed a third of the value off mainland markets since its peak in June.

The luster was expected to rub off on European shares, with financial spreadbetters expecting Britain's FTSE 100 to open up as much as 0.8 percent, Germany's DAX 2.1 percent higher, and France's CAC 40 is seen opening up 1.8 percent.

China's Stock Crash - in 60 Seconds
China's Stock Crash - in 60 Seconds

"Greece is also aiding sentiment and traders are expressing the view that 'Greece is solved, get involved,' or words to that effect. The new proposals that have been announced in the early Asian session have seen a strong move higher in U.S. futures and our opening European calls also look strong," Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG, said in a note.

Greece's new proposals included a tax hike on shipping companies and scrapping tax breaks for its islands, as well as a higher value-added tax for restaurants and a firm timetable for privatizations.

The Greek government will ask for parliament's approval on Friday to negotiate on the text of "prior actions" that could form the basis of a cash-for-reforms deal with creditors, a government source said.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan extended early gains and was up 1.3 percent, but was still on track for a weekly loss over 3 percent in a period marred by a savage correction in Chinese stock markets.

Shanghai's benchmark composite index was up 5.3 percent, while the CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen added 6 percent.

U.S. stock futures also rose, with S&P 500 mini futures jumping 1.2 percent from late U.S. levels.

Japan's Nikkei stock index erased gains and ended a volatile session down 0.4 percent, closing below the psychologically significant 20,000 level for a weekly loss of 3.7 percent. That was the biggest weekly drop since October.

The silver lining of this drop is that valuations have become more attractive, which was drawing buying by retail investors and pension funds who usually buy stocks when they are falling, according to market participants.

"Most people think the worst is over," said Isao Kubo, equity strategist at Nissay Asset Management.

The euro soared, adding 0.8 percent to $1.1126, while the dollar gained 0.5 percent against the safe-haven yen to 121.95 yen.

The euro jumped 1.3 percent to 135.63 yen, recovering from a six-week low of 133.30 yen, as investors decided they saw light at the end of Greece's debt tunnel.

Germany, Athens biggest creditor, also made a small concession on Thursday by acknowledging that Greece will need some debt restructuring as part of the new program to make its public finances viable in the medium-term.

China's gains and hopes on a deal for Greece bolstered Asian shares throughout the session, though many investors remained uncertain of a best-case outcome for the Greek crisis.

Investors are also not sure if the worst is over for China markets in the short term, and the costs of heavy-handed state intervention in equities are likely to weigh on the market for a long time.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures were higher but remained on track for steep weekly losses.

U.S. crude was trading up 1.1 percent at $53.35 per barrel, more than 6 percent below last Friday's close. Brent crude was up about 1.1 percent on the day at $59.24 a barrel, but still down nearly 2 percent for the week.

See photos of China's stocks taking a hit:

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