Euro, world stocks rise on signs Greece deal may be close

Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:31pm EST
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By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The oversold euro rose to three-week highs against the dollar on Monday and world stocks edged higher as signs of progress on a Greek debt restructuring deal fueled hope that the euro zone crisis may be contained.

Oil prices gained as European Union foreign ministers agreed to ban imports of Iranian oil from the start of July to pressure Iran over its nuclear ambitions, a move that renewed threats by Teheran to block a vital oil export route, while investors sold safe-haven U.S. bonds.

In Europe, Germany and France pushed for a deal between Greece and its private creditors and said they remained dedicated to a new bailout needed by March to stave off a disorderly default.

Euro zone finance ministers could decide later on Monday what debt restructuring terms they would accept.

Greece needs additional aid to be able to return its debt to sustainable levels. Without the aid, Athens will not be able to pay back 14.5 billion euros in maturing bonds in March - which would trigger a messy default that would hurt the entire euro zone and send tremors beyond the 13-year-old single currency bloc.

Optimism that Greece will reach a deal with its creditors led investors to pare bets against the euro, even though most maintained a negative outlook.

The euro was up 1.1 percent at $1.3012, after earlier hitting its strongest level since early January.

The euro was supported by investors taking profits on short positions, which have been running at record highs for four weeks, strategists said.   Continued...

<p>Head of the Institute of International Finance (IIF) Charles Dallara (L) and his colleague Jean Lemierre leave the Greek Prime minister's office in Athens January 20, 2012. REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis</p>