Stocks hit near five-month high but Greek talks keep markets edgy

Mon Feb 16, 2015 1:22pm EST
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By Nigel Stephenson

LONDON (Reuters) - Global shares hit their highest since September and the euro firmed on Monday with investors cautiously optimistic that euro zone finance ministers would reach a funding deal for debt-laden Greece.

The prospect of Greece and its partners reaching agreement on a debt deal helped push yields on low-risk government bonds higher, though both sides struck hardline postures as the talks began at 9 a.m. ET.

"There is an underlying view that there has to be a resolution, not least because Greece apparently has little or no bargaining power," said John Bilton, head of the global multi-asset strategy team at JPMorgan Asset Management.

The MSCI all-country world stocks index, which has risen in recent days on hopes for a Greek deal and a ceasefire in Ukraine, touched its highest since Sept. 22. It was last fractionally up on the day at 427.95 points.

Tokyo's Nikkei closed at its highest since July 2007, buoyed by a record close on Friday in the U.S. S&P 500 index and after data showed Japan emerged from recession in the final quarter of 2014, although its 0.6 percent growth was less than forecast.

U.S. financial markets were closed on Monday for the Presidents' Day holiday.

The euro rose 0.2 percent to $1.1407.

"This can quickly turn sour for the euro if there is no deal today," said Susanne Galler, a strategist with Jefferies in London.   Continued...

A trader is working at his desk in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange February 16, 2015.  REUTERS/Remote/Pawel Kopczynski