Global markets began the week on a strong note, apparently optimistic that a critical Brussels meeting will successfully conclude the now seven-month effort to arrange a second massive bailout for debt-choked Greece.
Eurozone officials on Monday began considering a $430 million package of austerity measures passed by Greek lawmakers last week as a condition for receiving $171 billion in rescue money. Greece's $430 million austerity package includes cuts in pensions, layoffs of formerly tenured government workers and sharp tax hikes.
The money is needed by Athens so it can redeem $20.5 billion in bonds that come due March 20. Without the money, which would be the second aid package in two years, Greece will likely become the first Eurozone nation to default.
Investors apparently expect success. The Australian bond market opened lower Monday as investors opted for stocks over the safe havens, and futures on Japan's and South Korea's stock exchanges signaled a higher open.
It is interesting to note that we've seen rallies in Spanish and Italian bond markets on Friday night and it does appear that there seems to be some sort of re-weighting back into Europe, CMC chief market strategist Michael McCarthy told the Sydney Morning Herald.
It's quite possible, given that the Australian bond market benefited so much from the rotation out of Europe, they're giving up some ground as investors rotate back into Europe.
The upbeat mood among global investors also rose after Japan and China said over the weekend they were ready to back the International Monetary Fund's efforts to help resolve Europe's debt crisis, the Japan Times reported.
In addition to the Brussels meeting with Greek leaders, which is being attended by Greece's prime minister and its finance minister, Eurozone officials and the International Monetary Fund are striving to complete a private-sector bond swap aimed at cutting $132 billion off Greece's debt.
The goal is to bring Greece's debt-to-GDP ratio -- currently at 164 percent -- to as close to 120 percent as possible. The means to that end is having investors exchange their Greek bonds for ones with half their face value.
The IMF is looking for a combination of the options that would lead towards the 120 percent debt-to-GDP target by 2020. But it's not known how many of those options will be adopted by the finance ministers on Monday, an unnamed source told The Wall Street Journal.
The goal, which can only be achieved if Eurozone governments and the European Central Bank contribute, is to have all arrangements finalized so the actual swap can begin no later than March 8 and be completed three days later.