Feb 21, 2012, 08.45 AM | Source: Reuters
Asian stocks and the euro faltered on Tuesday, as a rally that had been driven by expectations of a second bailout package for Greece ran out of steam with a deal still not quite sealed.
Euro zone finance ministers were expected to approve a 130-billion-euro rescue with strict conditions after months of uncertainty that has shaken the currency bloc, although work remained to be done to make the numbers add up.
Hopes of an agreement on Greece, combined with an easing of monetary policy in China, had driven riskier assets such as shares and commodities higher in recent days.
"Share markets around the world have rallied recently, driven in part by hopes that Greece will clinch a bailout deal," said Yumi Nishimura, a senior market economist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo, speaking as talks dragged on in Brussels.
"So I doubt it will provide fresh impetus for buying even if euro zone ministers reach an agreement."
MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan and Tokyo's Nikkei share average both inched down 0.1%.
Both indexes have started 2012 strongly, with the MSCI benchmark up 13.5% and the Nikkei up 12% for the year-to-date, outperforming an 8% rise in Wall Street's S&P 500.
The euro edged down 0.3 percent to around $1.3210, pulling back from a one-week high reached in the previous session.
In commodity markets, US crude hovered near a nine-month high close to USD 105 a barrel, partly driven by Iran's cutting off of oil exports to Britain and France, while gold was little changed around USD 1,733 an ounce.
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