Euro, global shares up as Greek deal seen near

Wed Feb 8, 2012 7:05am EST
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By Richard Hubbard

LONDON (Reuters) - The euro hit an eight-week high and shares rose on Wednesday on hopes that a second Greek bailout was close, shrugging off data showing the damage done by the crisis to the region's economy and looking ahead to pro-growth moves from central banks.

U.S. stock index futures also point to a slightly higher open for equities on Wall St.

Greek leaders are due to meet later to agree a deal on painful austerity steps needed to secure a 130 billion euro ($172 billion) rescue from the IMF and European Union and avoid a potentially chaotic debt default.

"If we see a deal being signed it's going to be euro positive, but that's already priced in," Morgan Stanley strategist Ian Stannard said.

The euro rose to $1.3289, its highest level since December 12, also briefly reaching 102.45 yen, its highest since December 22 against the Japanese currency.

"There has been a propensity by the market in general to look at the Greek scenario with a glass-half-full approach, irrespective of the deadlines Greece has missed," said Jane Foley, senior currency analyst at Rabobank.

Euro zone officials say the full bailout package must be agreed with Greece and approved by the euro zone, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund before February 15.

BEYOND GREECE   Continued...