Asian markets higher after Greek confidence vote

By PAMELA SAMPSON | June 22, 2011 | 12:30 AM EDT

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets rose Wednesday after a parliamentary vote of confidence in the Greek government boosted hopes that the country will avoid default.

Oil prices fell below $94 a barrel after a crude supply report reflected mixed signs about U.S. demand. In currencies, the dollar was higher against the euro and the yen.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 1.3 percent to 9,582.73, with investors finding relief in what was viewed as a "crucial step toward stabilizing the whole debt situation" in Europe, said Ben Potter, a strategist with IG Markets in Melbourne.

"It looks like another broad-based rebound today as investor concerns ease over the European debt situation," Potter said in a note to clients.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was 0.7 percent higher to 21,994.01 and South Korea's Kospi rose 1 percent at 2,068.02.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.8 percent to 4,542.90. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines also rose, while mainland China shares were down.

Materials and heavy machinery producers — companies whose profits are closely tied to global economic growth — had strong gains. Hong Kong-listed Zijin Mining Group, China's biggest gold miner, rose 2.2 percent. Australia's BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, rose 1.1 percent. Japan's Komatsu Ltd., one of the world's leading equipment makers, jumped 2.3 percent.

On Wall Street Tuesday, stocks rose for a fourth straight day as investors bet that the Greek government would survive a crucial confidence vote, raising the likelihood that the country will push through budget cuts required to get the latest installment of emergency loans. Worries that a default by Greece could lead to a wider financial crisis have been dragging on markets since early May.

The S&P 500 index rose 1.3 percent to close at 1,295.52. The last time the S&P rose four days straight was at the end of May. The Dow Jones industrial average rose slightly less than 1 percent to 12,190.01. The Nasdaq composite rose 2.2 percent to 2,687.26.

Separately, the U.S. Federal Reserve began a two-day policy meeting Tuesday. Economists expect the central bank to keep interest rates at record lows, but most say the Fed won't announce another round of bond buying to help boost the economy.

Benchmark oil for August delivery was down 41 cents to $93.76 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 54 cents to settle at $94.17 on Tuesday.

In currencies, the euro slipped to $1.4364 from $1.4416 in late trading in New York. The dollar strengthened to 80.24 yen from 80.13 yen.