A currency trader reacts in front of screens showing [auth] the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), center, and foreign exchange rate, right, at the foreign exchange dealing room of the Korea Exchange Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012. South Korea’s Kospi dropped 1.19 percent at 1,914.43. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets edged higher Wednesday as the threat of an imminent meltdown in debt-swamped Greece receded.
Greece held a sale of short-term treasury bills Tuesday that will help it make a crucial debt repayment at the end of the week. Without the sale, Athens would have found it impossible to repay the €5 billion ($6.4 billion) treasury bill maturing on Friday, the day on which Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has said Greece would run out of money.
Analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong called the auction of 4.06 billion euros ($5.15 billion) in bills a success and said that it “added to the positive tone” helping to boost stocks.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.1 percent to 8,670.67. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.6 percent to 21,321.15 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2 percent to 4,387.60. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.1 percent to 1,887.62.
Benchmarks in Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines also rose. Singapore and Malaysia fell.
Greece has been locked out of the international long-term debt market by exceptionally high interest rates demanded for its bonds since 2010, and has been relying on funds from rescue loans by other euro countries and the International Monetary Fund.
Traders also have to deal with the uncertainty posed in the U.S. by the looming “fiscal cliff,” a set of U.S. government spending cuts and tax increases that will take effect automatically at the beginning of next year unless U.S. leaders reach a compromise before then.
Economists have warned that the U.S. economy could be thrown into a recession if nothing is done. Worries about the fiscal cliff pushed U.S. stocks to one of their worst weekly losses of the year last week.
On Tuesday, the Dow closed down closed down 0.5 percent at 12,756.18. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.4 percent to 1,374.53. The Nasdaq composite index lost 0.7 percent to 2,883.89.
Benchmark oil for December delivery was down 14 cents to $85.24 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 19 cents to finish at $85.38 per barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.
The euro rose to $1.2715 from $1.2705 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar rose to 79.48 yen from 79.41 yen.