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Euro, stocks slip as Greece set to reject austerity

TOKYO: The euro skidded to an 11-year low and stock prices fell on Monday as Greece’s Syriza party promised to roll back austerity measures after sweeping to victory in a snap election, putting Athens on a collision course with international lenders.

The euro fell to an 11-year low of $1.1098 EUR= on the vote outcome before recovering to $1.1186, still down 0.2 percent from last week.

The election was the second blow since last week for the euro, still smarting after the European Central Bank unveiled a huge bond-buying stimulus program.

European shares are expected to take a beating, with spreadbetters seeing a fall of 1.0-1.1 percent in Germany’s DAX .GDAX and other core countries. Southern European countries could see a fall of almost 2 percent.

As concerns grew that the Greek election results could lead to renewed instability in Europe, U.S. stock futures ESc1 fell 0.5 percent in Asia. Japan’s Nikkei .N225 closed down 0.3 percent, and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan.MIAPJ0000PUS was also off 0.3 percent

Safe-haven assets were in favor, with the 30-year U.S. bonds yield hitting a record low of 2.336 percent US30YT=RR. The 10-year notes yield fell 5 basis points to 1.759 percent US10YT=RR.

The Swiss franc rose 0.4 percent to 0.87684 to the dollar CHF=while the yen edged up to 117.60 to the dollar JPY=.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras is set to form the first euro zone government that is openly opposed to bailout conditions imposed by the European Union and International Monetary Fund during the economic crisis.

Renegotiating with other euro zone governments could even raise the risk of Greeceeventually leaving the currency union, though most market players expect Tsipras to eventually make compromises to avoid the so-called “Grexit”.

Indeed, the broad consensus in the markets is that any renewed tensions over Greece are unlikely to hurt broader investor sentiment much beyond an initial shock.

Unlike at the height of the debt crisis in 2011-12, European banks now have limited exposure to Greece, and European policymakers have frameworks to deal with indebted countries, analysts say.

“At the moment, the market believes that if there is any (debt) restructuring it would only involve the official sector and for now, the possibility of Greece leaving the euro zone even with the incoming government is small,” said Sebastien Galy, senior foreign exchange analyst at Societe Generale in New York.

The ECB’s plan to pump more than a trillion euro into the banking system in the coming year and a half is underpinning risk sentiment, which boosted European share prices to seven-year highs on Friday.

On the other hand, U.S. stocks slipped on Friday, partly because strength of the dollar dented the allure of the relatively sound U.S. economy.

“Economic data out of the U.S. seems to have lost a little bit of momentum lately. Quietly the impact of a strong dollar is starting to appear,” said Tohru Yamamoto, chief strategist at Daiwa Securities.

The dollar rose more than 5 percent so far this year against a basket of major currencies.DXY, hitting the highest level since 2003.

That could encourage the Federal Reserve to remain “patient” in raising interest rates, when it holds a policy meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Elsewhere, oil prices also started the week weaker, with U.S. crude futures falling 0.9 percent to $45.17 per barrel CLc1, near 5 1-2/year low of $44.20 hit earlier this month.

Oil prices blipped up briefly on Friday after the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah sparked speculation that the world’s biggest crude exporter could change its policy not to slash output despite relentless price falls.

But the rises were short-lived as new King Salman was quick to keep veteran oil minister Ali al-Naimi on Friday, pledging continuity in energy policy.

Copper dropped below its trough hit on Jan. 14, slipping to as low as $5,345 per tonne CMCU3, its lowest level in 5 1/2 years. (REUTERS)

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