Feb. 13 - European shares were higher on Monday and the euro also rose, thanks to the Greek government's approval of a deeply unpopular new austerity package, which brings Athens closer to receiving new bailout funds. Joanna Partridge reports.
Investors seem fairly content with the Greek government's approval of a tough, and deeply unpopular, new austerity bill - despite overnight riots in Athens. There was a sea of green on the Athens stock exchange on Monday morning - with stocks up by as much as 5% in early trade. National Bank of Greece shares were up by 10% - leading the index of European banking shares higher. The euro also rose around half a percent against the dollar on the news from Athens. Financial analyst Dimitris Katsikas says the government's passing of the bill has bought Greece some time. SOUNDBITE: Dimitris Katsikas, Analyst, saying (English): "At least for a time Greece is safe from an unruly default." The Greek news also lifted stocks across Europe. But gains were limited as Greece still has to find another 325 million euros of spending cuts on top of those just agreed. It must also promise to implement the plan regardless of any political changes otherwise euro zone finance ministers won't approve the second bailout on Wednesday. While it looks like Greece won't suffer a chaotic default, Frankfurt trader Robert Halver still believes Athens will have to return to the drachma eventually. SOUNDBITE: Robert Halver, Trader at Baader Bank, saying (English): "We have no chance to keep the Greeks in the euro zone. I still strongly believe that after the French presidential election, after having more liquidity for the European banks and after a massive leverage of the permanent rescue umbrella, that Greece will go out in the spring, maybe in the early summer." The panic about Greece defaulting in March may have eased - investors are now likely to turn their attention to economic data coming out of Germany later this week to see the effect the debt crisis is having on the rest of the European economy. Joanna Partridge, Reuters