Markets pause on caution as Greece debt talk eyed

Asian shares and the euro paused from last week’s rally on Monday as investors sweated on the progress of crucial Greek talks on a debt swap deal to avoid a default, while activity was subdued due to the Lunar New Year holiday in much of Asia.

Caution returned as Greece and private creditors struggled to reach an agreement vital for restoring confidence in Europe’s refinancing ability, and mixed US corporate earnings revived concerns over global growth prospects and weighed on sentiment.

The MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was barely changed from Friday, when it touched its highest in more than two months to post a year-to-date rise of about 7.5 percent.

The pan-Asia index was dragged down by a sluggish Australian stock market, where uncertainty over Greece prompted investors to reassess positions after a 4.5 percent rally in the main share index so far this year.

Japan’s Nikkei average closed flat, after hitting a an 11-week high earlier on Monday. [Reuters]

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