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Before the Bell: Greek bond swap fuels market hope

Liam Lahey

Global markets are mostly up on Friday as Greece has secured a debt restructuring deal with private bondholders. Portugal looms as the next Eurozone worry but market sentiment was buoyed by word China's inflation eased.

Greece's €206 billion debt restructuring, the largest in history, will ensure the country receives the €130 billion in international loans it needs to avoid a disorderly default. That brings other countries such as Portugal into focus, as its 10-year bonds trade as low as 50¢ on the euro.

The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index was recently up 0.2 per cent at 264.78. London's FTSE 100 Index was flat at 5858.71, Paris's CAC-40 Index was 0.1 per cent higher at 3481.20 and Frankfurt's DAX was 0.4 per cent higher at 6861.02. The euro currency is presently fetching US$1.3224.

In Asia, slightly lower Chinese inflation and Greek optimism spurred market gains. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average was up 1.6 per cent. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.8 per cent while Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.9 per cent. The Sensex advanced 2.2 per cent and Australia's S&P/ASX Index gained 0.9 per cent.

On Wall Street, U.S. futures are pointing to a lower open ahead of key economic data. Futures for the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq all fell by up to 0.2 per cent. All eyes today will be on the U.S. Labor Department's data for both the February unemployment rate and nonfarm payrolls. The U.S. Commerce Department is also due to release its January trade balance sheet and a wholesale inventories report for January.

Canada's benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index jumped 111.77 points to close at 12,461.93 on Thursday, led by mining and energy stocks. The TSX Venture Exchange gained 12.67 points to 1,634.34. The Canadian dollar is currently trading at 100.9¢ US.