Before the Bell: Greek hope lifts global markets

Though it isn't a done deal yet, optimism is high that private bondholders will sign onto Greece's debt-swap agreement, reaching the imposed deadline later on Thursday. That, along with upbeat U.S. jobs data released Wednesday, is fuelling positive investor sentiment in global markets.

The bond swap is critical for Greece to secure a €130 billion (US$171 billion) package of rescue loans from other Eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund. Without the funds, Greece faces bankruptcy by Mar. 20th and that could drag down other financially vulnerable countries in Europe.

The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index was recently up 0.7 per cent at 261.99. London's FTSE 100 Index was up 0.6 per cent at 5826.70, Paris's CAC-40 Index was 1.1 per cent higher at 3430.14 and Frankfurt's DAX was 0.8 per cent higher at 6723.99. The euro currency is presently fetching US$1.3176.

Asian bourses also saw gains thanks to renewed hope in Greece's situation. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average jumped 2 per cent to 9768.96, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.3 per cent to 20900.73 and China's Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.1 per cent to 2420.28. Also, South Korea's Kospi added 0.9 per cent to 2000.76, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.7 per cent to 4171.0 and Taiwan's Taiex advanced 1 per cent to 7984.56.

On Wall Street, U.S. futures are pointing to a higher open. Futures for the S&P 500 are up 0.8 per cent, while Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq 100 futures were both up 0.7 per cent. On the economic data calendar for Thursday, market participants will be eyeing German industrial production figures and U.S. weekly jobless claims data.

Here at home, the S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 51.53 points to close at 12,350.16 on Wednesday. The TSX Venture Exchange climbed 16.8 points to 1,621.67. The Canadian dollar is presently trading at 100.18¢ US.