US stocks on the rise as hopes of Greece deal grow

A pending deal between Greece and its creditors caused US stocks to rise Monday. Late Sunday, the Greek government pitched a reform package proposal to its creditors that Euro zone officials welcomed as a step in the right direction in resolving the nation's debt load.  

Eric Vidal/Reuters
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (R) and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis (C) are welcomed by European Council President Donald Tusk ahead of a meeting during a Eurozone emergency summit on Greece in Brussels, Belgium June 22, 2015. A new Greek offer for a cash-for-reforms deal raised hopes of an agreement as euro zone leaders prepared for an emergency summit on Monday, with EU officials welcoming the proposals as a "good basis for progress" to avert a default by Athens.

As Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras prepared to meet with creditors on Monday to hammer out the details of a deal that could prevent Greece from defaulting on its loans, investor confidence grew here in the United States.   

US stocks and peripheral euro zone bonds rose Monday along with hopes that Greece would reach a satisfactory compromise that would put an end to fears of a default. The Dow was up 94 points to 18,109 early Monday afternoon, and the Nasdaq was up 27 points to 5,144.

Late Sunday, the Greek government pitched a reform package proposal to its creditors that Euro zone officials welcomed as a step in the right direction. With leaders set to discuss the proposal in an emergency summit in Brussels at 1pm Eastern Time, experts say that US markets will be focused on the events there. 

“Although we have existing-home sales and the Chicago Fed index on the radar today, US markets will still be keeping most of their attention on Greece,” Chris Beauchamp, senior market analyst at IG, said in a note to Marketwatch Monday morning.

“With Fed worries temporarily banished, investors would now love to see a resolution, even if only temporary, of the problems afflicting the eurozone,”

After months of animosity, especially between Greece the biggest European contributor to Greece’s bailout program, Germany, the optimistic tone in Brussels injected some long-awaited hope into the atmosphere. The resulting jump on Monday sent the Nasdaq Composite to a new record high. The S&P 500 was also 0.8 percent higher on the day as European markets closed.

Meanwhile, European shares rose and the Greek stock market jumped nearly 9 percent Monday. The borrowing costs of Italy, Spain and Portugal, the countries most likely to be affected if Greece heads for the euro zone exit, fell sharply, Reuters reported, and Asian markets also moved higher.

But despite the early optimism, many politicians expressed doubt that a deal will be reached on Monday, and some speculated that it could take up to a week for an agreement to emerge.

“Today an agreement is not possible," Spain’s finance minister Luis de Guindos told the Financial Times, while adding that “there is always time”, and “there is the will for a good agreement”.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Economic Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told reporters they are confident a deal will be reached in the coming days, Reuters reported. Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the Eurogroup meetings of eurozone finance ministers, also said a deal could be reached later this week.

Time is quickly running out, however.

Monday’s meeting was convened in an attempt to solve Greece’s debt crisis before a critical €1.6 billion payment to the International Monetary Fund is due June 30.

The only way an IMF default can be avoided is for the European Central Bank to raise the ceiling on the short-term debt Athens is allowed to sell. This would need to happen by Monday June 29, the Guardian reported, leaving officials just one week to reach a deal.

Nevertheless, some experts say that the optimism causing stock markets to rise stems from the fact that the two sides are still engaging with one another.

“Both parties have in the last day or two showed that it’s in their interest to find an agreement and that is something that is still instilling confidence in the investor community,” David Vickers, a senior portfolio manager at Russell Investments, told the Wall Street Journal.

Other market strategists suggested that the European Central Bank’s willingness to increase the limit on the amount of emergency loans available to Greece has also help drive optimism.  

On Monday the European Central Bank increased the limit on the amount of emergency loans available to Greek banks for the third time in six days. The emergency loans are meant to offset the outflow of billions of euros from banks as consumers withdraw their savings amid fears that their currency could be devalued if Greece is forced out of the euro.

An exit from the euro could have serious consequences for the liquidity and solvency of Greece’s banks. Nevertheless, European markets remained calm last week as many investors say the potential for Greece’s problems to spread to other markets has diminished in comparison with recent years.

If Greece reaches a deal with its creditors, its bailout would be extended by six months and up to €18 billion in rescue funds could be provided. Most EU officials have expressed confidence that an agreement will be reached on key issues such as pension reform and tax rates.

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