Euro zone decision to boost firepower of rescue fund buys time from markets

Written by Reuters | New York | Updated: Oct 28 2011, 10:22am hrs
Though they did not deliver the master plan many were hoping for, European officials gave financial markets something to keep their hopes up with an agreement to boost the firepower of a euro zone rescue fund. The precise details will have to wait until November. But a deal to ramp up the bailout fund by around fourfold was enough to lift US stocks and push US treasuries lower.

While there are no specific details, at least this appears to be (moving) in the right direction and hopefully is also a sign of unity among the EU, said Ravi Bharadwaj, market analyst at Travelex Global Payments in Washington.

He said the muted impact in the euro reflects that a lot of people were expecting more clarity today, for example on how to restructure Greeces outstanding government debt.

Talks in the run-up to Wednesdays summit had involved having private creditors take up to 50% haircuts on their Greek bond holdings. Earlier this year, the proposal called for about 20%.

This is a tightrope. I do see a positive scenario, but nothing is set in stone, said Jurgen Odenius, principal of international economic and investment strategy at Prudential Fixed Income in Newark, NJ. There is still the risk that the voluntary debt restructuring would not happen and Greece could default.

They have continuously kicked this can down the road and now we are at a point where everybodys back is against the wall you have to do something and it is encouraging that you are at least getting European policy makers to agree in principle on what needs to happen, said Joseph Tanious, market strategist at JP Morgan Funds in New York. That said, how you actually execute on this plan and agree on all the details is like herding cats.

For markets, living from euro zone summit to euro zone summit has become de rigueur in recent months, with each new development taken as a reason for cautious optimism or renewed despair.