Euro edges up as investors weigh risks of Greek exit

Euro edges up as investors weigh risks of Greek exit
Anti-austerity 'No' voters celebrate the results of the first exit polls in front of the Greek parliament in Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece July 5, 2015.
PHOTO: Reuters

TOKYO - The euro bounced back against the dollar in Asia on Monday despite a jump in the odds of a Greek exit from the eurozone after it rejected creditors' austerity demands in a weekend referendum.

The 19-nation currency was changing hands at $1.1025 in early Asian trade, coming off $1.0963 soon after early results of the Greece bailout reforms vote were out.

The euro was at $1.0987 in New York late Sunday, down 1.2 percent from Friday evening.

In the wake of the vote, the euro weakened to 134.91 yen from 136.31 yen and 0.7088 pounds from 0.7135 on Friday.

Shinya Harui, currency analyst at Nomura Securities in Tokyo, said the common currency was holding up as traders "assess the spill-over risks in the case of a Greek exit from the eurozone".

"I personally think the chance (of the Greek exit) is very high, at around 70-80 percent," he added.

"A Greek exit would shake confidence in what had been 19-nation solidarity, which could fuel anti-euro movements within Europe." As Greece was unable to repay a key International Monetary Fund debt last week, it cannot borrow money from international institutions and will be shut out of financial markets, Harui warned.

"Inflation risks (in Greece) are very high... People voted 'No' without being fully aware of the ensuing risks," he said.

Official results from over 95 percent of polling stations showed more than 61 percent of Greek voters rejected fresh austerity demands by the country's creditors in the historic referendum.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras claimed the creditors, including the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund - would be forced to talk about restructuring the massive, 240-billion-euro (US$267 billion) debt Greece owes them.

"The 'No' vote is the worst possible outcome from an 'uncertainty' perspective", Ray Attrill, global co-head of forex strategy at National Australia Bank, said in a commentary after the referendum.

"'Grexit' risk has clearly risen sharply, and is now the singularly most likely scenario following the referendum." "Of one thing we can be sure: the 'moral hazard' risks arising from immediately granting Greece a soft deal with substantial debt relief... makes this a less likely scenario than Grexit," he said.

Attrill said a fall back in the euro to levels around $1.05 was "not unreasonable".

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