ECONOMY

Greek markets surge as Athens clinches bailout deal

greek-markets-surge-as-athens-clinches-bailout-deal

Greek financial markets surged on Tuesday after Athens agreed a multi-billion-euro bailout deal with international lenders that could potentially save the indebted country from financial ruin.

A Greek Finance Ministry official said the pact would be worth up to 85 billion euros ($94 billion) in fresh loans over three years. Greek banks would get 10 billion euros immediately and be recapitalised by the end of the year.

Athens' benchmark ATG equity index closed up 2.1 percent, while the country's banking index also climbed 3 percent, although they remain down 15 percent and nearly 70 percent respectively since the start of 2015.

Athens was the only major European stock market to rise on the day, with all others reeling from China's surprise devaluation of the yuan.

Greece's two-year borrowing costs also dropped 4.78 percentage points to a five-month low of 14.67 percent. .

The deal, reached after marathon talks, is expected to be signed off by Greece's parliament and euro zone finance ministers this week to ensure Athens has enough cash to meet a chunky repayment to the European Central Bank on Aug. 20.

This would bring to a close a painful chapter of aid talks for Greece, which fought against austerity terms demanded by creditors for much of this year before relenting under the threat of being the first country to exit the euro zone.

"If Greece follows through with their proposed reforms and lenders are more realistic about the timing of repayments, then this could set the foundation for a strong recovery in the medium term," said Ali Miremadi, fund manager at Taube Hodson Stonex Partners.

"While institutional investors may be a little shy of investing in Greece in the very near future, the world is full of capital seeking out distressed opportunities and the proposed Greek privatisation programme may well provide an appropriate way to incentivise capital to re-enter the country," he added.

An added bonus for investors is that the deal may pave the way for the ECB to begin buying Greek bonds under its landmark quantitative easing scheme, even if just for a short period.

However, the yield on Greece's two-year bonds, which moves inversely to prices, remains above those of longer-dated bonds – a sign that investors still fear the country may not escape future default.

"The economy in Greece is in recession so we could be in a situation in six to nine months where they are failing to make the progress necessary to get the disbursements, and we run into another tense situation," said Martin van Vliet, senior rate strategist at ING.

[Reuters]