الإثنين , مايو 17 2021

Markets resilient despite Greek vote

Investors in China watch movements of the stock exchange

Global stock markets proved resilient on Tuesday, despite Greece’s shock rejection of the terms of an international bailout.

Japan’s Nikkei index opened up 1.25%.

US, European and other Asian stock markets mainly fell on Monday, but the market reaction was much more muted than analysts had expected.

In the US, the main indexes all closed down about 0.3%, while London’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.76%.

The euro rebounded from Monday’s one week low, to $1.1045 against the dollar, but slipped 0.7% against the pound to 70.8 pence.

Meanwhile, France’s Cac 40 dropped 2% and Germany’s Dax lost 1.5%.

“Markets have yet to be convinced in full either that the [Greek] exit door will be open or that the extent of any contagion from this could be irreparably damaging to the system,” said Neil Williams, chief economist at Hermes Investment Management.

Impact on banks

In early bond trading, the reaction was similarly soft. The interest rate on German bonds fell slightly as investors rushed into perceived safe haven assets, while yields on Italian, Spanish and Portuguese government debt ticked higher.

Greek bonds have not been traded on regulated platforms since last Monday, but indicative prices suggested the yield on two-year bonds would be 49.77%, with the yields on 10-year bonds at 17.4%.

On the stock markets, bank shares were some of the biggest fallers, with Barclays down 1.6%. Trading in Monte dei Paschi shares was suspended after they fell 5.7%.

Analysts said the falls were linked to fears that the crisis could increase losses from bad loans and potentially drive up borrowing costs for governments.

But most banks have already made sure their exposure to Greek assets is limited.

Overall, European banks have reduced their exposure to Greece by more than 80% since the 2011-12 crisis, according to Huw van Steenis, a banking analyst at Morgan Stanley.

His research shows that the threat of serious contagion in the banking has reduced since the initial Greek crisis.

Euro ‘vulnerable’

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said that Greece will go back to the negotiating table on Monday, adding that an International Monetary Fund (IMF) assessment published last week confirmed that a restructuring of Greek debt is necessary.

Without more emergency funding from the ECB, there are fears that Greece’s banks could run out of cash within days, potentially forcing the government to issue another currency to pay pensions and wages.

But some European officials have already warned that creditors could take a “No” vote to mean that Greeks had rejected further talks.

Germany’s Deputy Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, told local media that renewed negotiations with Greece were “difficult to imagine” and that Mr Tsipras had “torn down the bridges” between Greece and Europe.

Kathleen Brooks, UK and EMEA research director at currency firm FOREX.com, warned that she expected the euro to fall further.

“I don’t think that the market really thought there would be a ‘No’ vote. However, now that Tsipras’s bluff has been pulled, essentially Athens has the upper hand over the European authorities. We believe that this makes the euro extremely vulnerable to speculative attack in the coming days.”

And most analysts said that for the moment they expected markets to remain volatile.

“The risk of a Grexit has certainly increased. This will make for a traditional ‘risk-off’ in line with what we saw last Monday, with more risky assets going down and money floating to safe havens,” said Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets.

“At the end of the day, the negotiations will continue but the outcome is uncertainty.”

Robert Peston, BBC economics editor, Athens:

More bad news for Greece this evening, and again it is from the European Central Bank.

It has told Greek banks they have to lodge more collateral or assets with the Bank of Greece as security against the €89bn of emergency lending or ELA (emergency liquidity assistance) provided to the banks.

What does this mean?

Well it reduces the spare cash-raising capacity of the banks from €17-20bn to between €5-7bn. Or so I am told, by well-placed sources.

Now in one sense this is academic, because the ECB has also announced that the freeze on the total amount of ELA it will allow the Bank of Greece to do, which was announced on June 26 – and forced the Greek government to close the banks – will stay in place.

Or to put it another way, the tap of additional central bank support for the banks remains firmly turned off.

But I understand that one of the Big Four Greek banks has already almost run out of cash. So the ECB statement means that bank has no ability to replenish its dwindling cash stocks.

Read more from Robert here.

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