Greece pulled off history's biggest sovereign debt restructuring Thursday, central bankers around the world held rates steady and economists projected increased hiring by U.S. employers.
Greek government bondholders had until 3 p.m. EST to swap their securities for substitutes worth less than half the face value of their existing bonds; in the face of an Athenian threat to force them legally to go along, most knuckled under. Now Greece gets a $171 billion rescue to avoid a default, and the rest of the world gets an intermission in the now two-year long drama.
Central bankers are taking their feet off the throttle as growth risks ebb and inflation worries flow. Along with the European Central Bank, benchmark rates were held steady by Britain, Poland, Serbia, Canada, Korea, Indonesia, New Zealand and Malaysia.
Stocks. Banks led European indexes higher. The S&P 500 booked its biggest two-day gain this year as Alcoa Inc. and Caterpillar Inc. paced big company gains. The Hang Seng and Straits Times set the day's tone with gains of more than 1 percent.
Bonds. Treasury yields climbed above 2 percent and German bunds fell, but Italian and Spanish bonds rallied. The spread between Italian bond and German bund yields fell below 3 percent for the first time since September.
Currencies. The euro increased 1 percent to nearly $1.33, and rose 1.6 percent against the yen. The dollar was pummeled against a basket of six rivals. Currencies of resource-rich nations jumped, including New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Canada. Mexico's and Chile's peso also rose.
Commodities. Copper rose for the second day. Crude oil in the U.S. topped $106; in London it topped $124. Gold rose above $1,700 but closed below that level. Corn, the biggest U.S. crop, and wheat were the only major agricultural commodities to fall.