Page last updated at 22:38 GMT, Friday, 26 March 2010

Euro strengthens after EU agrees Greece deal

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The euro has strengthened against the dollar and the pound after eurozone leaders agreed a financial aid package to help debt-laden Greece.

The leaders agreed to provide 22bn euros (£20bn) should Greece run into difficulties borrowing money to service its high debt levels.

On Friday the euro rose by more than one cent to to $1.3393 before falling back slightly.

The euro has weakened in recent weeks because of the Greek debt crisis.

Against the pound, the euro rose by two-fifths of a cent to around £0.90.

Muted reaction

There have also been concerns about high levels of government borrowing in other eurozone countries, such as Portugal.

These forced the euro to a fresh 10-month low against the dollar on Thursday, before the eurozone loan package was agreed.

The package removes the risk of sovereign default and ultimately is going to prove positive for the economy
Platon Monokroussos, Eurobank

There had been fears that a deal might not be reached, with Germany arguing that Greece did not need help.

However, a compromise was agreed, with the International Monetary Fund contributing to the aid package.

But analysts said the feel-good factor engendered by the deal may be short-lived.

"The positive aspect of the [Greece] agreement is that following the long struggle, at least some form of agreement has now been reached," said Ulrich Leuchtmann at Commerzbank.

"That means that the dive in the euro against the dollar has been stopped for the time being. The agreement is, however, hardly reason for a significant correction."

Cheaper borrowing

The deal could calm fears that Greece's debt problems will spread to other vulnerable eurozone economies.

Yields on Greek government bonds fell slightly, reflecting the fact that investors view them as slightly less risky following the deal.

The yield is the interest rate investors are paid on loans to the government.

"The market is quickly pricing out any probability of default risk," said Petros Christodoulou, chief of the Greek debt management agency.

Platon Monokroussos at Greece's Eurobank said: "I expect sovereign bond yields to tighten in the next few days."

This would make it cheaper for the government to borrow money to service its debt.

'Contentious conditions'

The real test, analysts said, would come at the next sale of government bonds.

"The Greek debt office will almost certainly have to announce another bond sale in the coming weeks," said's Jane Foley.

"Not only will this sale be a crucial test for Greece, but it will set the scene as to what happens next in [the eurozone]".

According to Moody's credit rating agency, disagreement among eurozone partners could undermine the deal: "The key credit question is whether market confidence will be strengthened by the support package, or whether it will be weakened by the contentious conditions under which this package was agreed."

Greek stock market investors were buoyed by the deal, with the Athens Composite index up 4.1% by mid-afternoon trading, led by banks, which rose on average by 8.8%.

But the major European stock markets were not convinced by the deal. The UK's FTSE 100, France's Cac 40, and Germany's Dax indexes all fell slightly.

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