Investors to dance to Greek tune

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras talks to the media as he arrives at a Euro zone leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2015.
PHOTO: Reuters

Following the upheaval in the global financial markets last week, investors have been hoping for a less bumpy ride in the coming days, but they will have to brace themselves for more uncertainty as the Greek situation remains in flux.

At the close of the trading week in Europe and the United States, Greece's last-ditch reform proposals were warmly received, reviving hopes for a bailout deal to be settled yesterday.

China's stock markets also took a turn for the better, bouncing back in the later part of the week after being gripped by panic-selling. Analysts said that the Chinese government's efforts to restore investor confidence seem to have worked, albeit temporarily.

Buoyed by easing pressures in both Greece and China, global sentiment improved.

The atmosphere in Wall Street was lively on Friday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average coursed up 1.21 per cent and the S&P 500 rose 1.23 per cent.

The benchmark Straits Times Index, too, ended the week on a positive note - up 0.38 per cent at 3,279.88, with 190.85 million shares changing hands. This was even as it sank 1.67 per cent on Wednesday. For the week, however, the index was down 62.85 points or 1.92 per cent.

Some dealers are sceptical as to whether the bears can really be kept at bay.

All eyes continue to be on the Greek debt situation and the Chinese markets, said remisier Desmond Leong.

European leaders had set a make-or-break deadline by yesterday for Greece to accept a rescue. With the European Union summit called off as talks with euro-zone finance ministers continued yesterday, a speedy resolution to the Greek debt crisis looks increasingly unlikely.

Mr Leong said that the outcome, whatever it is, will impact Singapore stocks, though likely to a limited extent.

He added: "We've already been through China and two milestones relating to Greece's debt situation - we should be able to weather it this week as well."

An ABN-Amro report last week said that the likelihood of Greece reaching a deal with its creditors by yesterday is "likely to be very challenging and it may well prove elusive".

But it added that even as financial markets will react negatively to a no-deal scenario, it believes the situation is unlikely to evolve into "a Lehman moment".

The Lehman Brothers bank collapse in 2008 has been largely pinpointed as the factor that precipitated the global financial crisis.

More pressing is how the Chinese markets will perform, given that more companies here have exposure to China than Greece, said Mr Leong.

United States Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen said on Friday that she expects the Fed to raise interest rates "at some point later this year".

But she stressed that the US labour markets remain weak and that more workers could be encouraged back into the job market with stronger growth.

Singapore will be announcing advance estimates for the second quarter's gross domestic product tomorrow. The Singapore market will be closed on Friday for the Hari Raya Puasa holiday.

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