Asian markets rise on Greece deal

Asian markets rose Tuesday after the eurozone and the IMF agreed to unlock 43.7 billion euros ($56 billion) in loans to Greece and grant significant debt relief for decades to come.

Tokyo closed up 0.37 percent, or 34.36 points, at 9,423.30 on the news, Seoul rose 0.87 percent, or 16.69 points, to 1,925.20 while Sydney ended 0.74 percent, or 32.6 points, higher at 4,456.8.

In afternoon trade Hong Kong was up 0.33 percent but Chinese shares were down 0.98 percent on concerns over the strength of recovery in the domestic economy.

Shanghai's Composite Index was trading below the key 2,000 point level for the third time in a month, reflecting investor disappointment at a lack of government action to boost China's economy.

The Eurogroup of currency partners penned the Greek deal at its third late-night meeting in two weeks, agreeing to the release of the funds in December after months in which Greece was starved of bailout financing.

Greece, struggling to stay afloat despite a series of unpopular austerity measures, has been waiting impatiently for an injection of international loans for several weeks to avoid defaulting on its upcoming debt repayments.

Greece's public creditors agreed to take measures to bring down the country's debt-to-GDP ratio from an estimated 144 percent to 124 percent within eight years in exchange for the billions in loans.

After 13 hours of talks, finance ministers, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank agreed that the money would be paid in four installments from December 13 through until the end of March.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said the agreement represented a fresh start for his beleaguered country.

"Everything has gone well," Samaras told local media in Athens. "All Greeks have fought (for this decision) and tomorrow is a new day for every Greek person."

ECB President Mario Draghi said: "The decision will certainly reduce the uncertainty and strengthen confidence in Europe and in Greece."

Ahead of the announcement US markets were feeble in the first session after a slow Thanksgiving holiday week, with the jury still out over how strong the crucial Black Friday holiday sales were for retailers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 42.31 points (0.33 percent) at 12,967.37.

The broad-market S&P 500 lost 2.86 (0.20 percent) to 1,406.29, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 9.93 (0.33 percent) to 2,976.78.

On currency markets the euro was stronger in Asian trade as investors breathed a sigh of relief over the Greece agreement.

The 17-nation currency bought $1.2984 and 106.69 yen in Tokyo trade after earlier briefly topping $1.30 for the first time in about a month.

That was up from $1.2971 and 106.38 yen in New York trade late Monday, although the euro eased slightly after the Greece announcement with investors taking profits and the focus turning towards a budgetary impasse in Washington.

Dealers are monitoring the so-called fiscal cliff of spending cuts and tax hikes due to come into effect on January 1.

Unless a bitterly divided US Congress reaches a new spending deal that date could see the United States thrown into recession.

The dollar gained to 82.22 yen from 81.98 yen.

On oil markets, New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January delivery, bounced 36 cents to $88.10 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude, also for January, jumped 22 cents to $111.14.

Gold was at $1,749.975 at 0615 GMT compared with $1,734.47 late Monday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei rose 0.31 percent, or 22.83 points, to 7,430.2.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co gained 1.05 percent to Tw$96.3 while leading smartphone maker HTC was 1.00 percent lower at Tw$248.5.

-- Wellington was flat, falling 2.42 points, at 4,009.61.

Telecom Corp was down 0.85 percent at NZ$2.33 and Fletcher Building rose 0.13 percent to NZ$7.98.

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    EURSGD=X
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    SGDJPY=X
    6.1743-0.0014-0.02%
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    1.1661+0.0002+0.02%
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    GCM14.CMX
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    CLM14.NYM
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    5UZ.SI
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