Hong Kong: Asian stocks rallied on Friday at the end of a tough week, with sentiment boosted by hopes that a bailout for debt-laden Greece is in sight.
The news also lifted the euro from its one-year lows, sending the yen down to the benefit of Japanese exporters.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, warning that Greece was in “a battle for survival”, said it would complete talks on getting tens of billions of euros from the European Union and International Monetary Fund “in coming days”.
“We will do whatever it takes to save the country,” he said.
Tokyo shares were 1.35% higher by the break, Hong Kong up 1.30% and Singapore advanced 0.68%.
Investors followed a rally on Wall Street, where the Dow rose 1.10% on the news out of Europe.
Athens has called on the EU and IMF to activate a three-year rescue package worth €45 billion this year as it faces a 19 May deadline to repay €9 billion in old debts.
If it misses this date the country will default, which would have a devastating effect on the economy and could ripple across the entire 16-nation eurozone.
The euro, which had hit a year low of 1.3202 dollars on Wednesday, bought $1.3242 in quiet Tokyo morning trade, compared with $1.3244 in New York late Thursday. It was also trading at ¥124.59 against 124.46.
The dollar was trading at ¥94.07 in line with New York levels.
Concerns over Greece’s fiscal health and that of the eurozone hammered markets earlier in the week after the country’s sovereign debt rating was downgraded to “junk” by Standard & Poor’s.
The US credit risk appraiser also downgraded two other eurozone members, Spain and Portugal, stoking speculation that the crisis was becoming contagious and rocking global markets.
Greece has been crippled by demonstrations and faces general strikes as the bailout nears completion due to the harsh conditions many believe will be imposed on ordinary people.
Seoul’s stock market was 0.86% higher after electronics giant Samsung announced net profit surged more than six-fold year-on-year to $3.6 billion in the first quarter.
The company, the world’s largest maker of computer memory chips and flat-screen televisions, said sales were boosted by stronger demand and higher memory chip prices.
Sydney rose 0.6% following a positive earnings report from Australia’s largest investment bank Macquarie.
Shares in Macquarie Group surged 4.18% to 50.37 Australian dollars, after it said full-year profit was up 21% due to improved market conditions.
However, Shanghai was 0.67% lower on concerns the Chinese government will introduce further measures to rein in property prices during the three-day May Day holiday.
Tokyo was unmoved by economic data showing Japanese unemployment rose to 5% in March from 4.9% the previous month, while industrial output grew 0.3% year-on-year following a fall in February.
Markets were looking ahead to the announcement of first-quarter US gross domestic product figures later Friday, while US jobs data for April are to be released on 7 May.
Oil was higher with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, up 29 cents to $85.46 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for June rose seven cents to $86.97.
Gold opened at $1,172.40-$1,173.40 an ounce in Hong Kong, up from Thursday’s close of $1,167.50-$1,168.50.