The euro inched higher on Thursday from a one-year low the previous day as senior European officials gave assurances that they were serious about helping Greece find a way out of its escalating debt crisis.

European shares <.FTEU3> also rose in early trade, buoyed largely by gains on Wall Street after the U.S. Federal Reserve gave an upbeat assessment of the world's largest economy.

The Fed comments, and its decision to keep interest rates near record lows, also lent some support to shares in Asia, though most markets failed to gain traction as European Union members squabbled over details of a Greek bailout.

Analysts said the problems in Europe, including a cut by Standard & Poors to Spain's credit rating overnight, highlighted the strength of Asian economies, which have snapped back from the global financial crisis much more quickly than the West.

The mood surrounding the euro remains sour, said Satoshi Okagawa, head of forex and money trading group at Sumitomo Mitsui Bank in Singapore.

The battered euro edged up to $1.3237, a rise of about 0.1 percent from late New York trade and above Wednesday's low of $1.3237 on EBS, as European officials rushed to provide assurances that funds would be forthcoming for Greece.

European Central Bank Governing Council member Axel Weber told Germany's Bild newspaper that a Greek debt default would have incalculable consequences on markets and other countries.

France's budget minister also expressed the resolve of euro zone countries to help Athens.

The single currency was beaten down on Wednesday as Germany baulked again at parts of the aid plan, but it recovered on reports that the bailout may be much bigger than anticipated and could be spread over several years.

Markets had feared that an earlier relief plan may only be enough to tide Greece over its first debt repayment hurdle on May 19, when it faces a maturing 8.5 billion euro bond. Most economists believe Greece is facing a long and painful multi-year crisis, one which could repeatedly test EU unity.

Juergen Trittin, parliamentary leader for Germany's Green party, quoted IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn as saying the package for Greece would be worth 100-120 billion euros ($133-160 billion) over three years.

European Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn told Finnish television Greece would need tens of billions of euros on top of the 45 billion pledged by the IMF and euro zone governments for this year. Strauss-Kahn declined to comment, saying the rescue package had not been settled.


While investors remain fixated by troubles of Greece, Portugal and Spain, equity markets drew support from Fed comments that U.S. economic activity has continued to strengthen, even as it repeated its pledge to keep interest rates low for an extended period.

Stronger U.S. growth could offset any decline in Europe caused by problems in weaker euro zone economies.

Major U.S. stock indexes rose as much as 0.7 percent on the Fed statement, and S&P 500 futures were indicated higher on Thursday.

Low borrowing costs have helped fuel a massive stock market rally since early last year, though momentum has sputtered in recent months as Greece's financial problems escalated.

The MSCI index of Asian stocks outside of Japan was off 0.1 percent by 2:30 a.m. ET, while Japanese markets were closed for the start of the country's long Golden Week holiday.

Asia is seen as having limited direct exposure to European debt problems for now. But analysts at DBS say euro zone uncertainties may keep investors from adding to their positions in this year's hot emerging stock and bond markets in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Crude oil prices also steadied on hopes that U.S. demand will improve this summer, with U.S. light crude futures easing but holding above $83 a barrel.

Gold was quoted just above $1,165 an ounce after a surge at its previous session to its highest year in response to concerns over European sovereign debt.

The U.S. dollar eased 0.15 percent against a basket of major global currencies <.DXY>. (Editing by Kim Coghill)