Markets rose on Wednesday as investors hoped Greece would deliver on a commitment to enact harsh reforms, while comments from China's central bank governor saying Beijing would continue to invest in euro zone government debt aided sentiment.

European shares were expected to follow Asia higher, with financial spreadbetters expecting Britain's FTSE 100 <.FTSE>, Germany's DAX <.GDAXI> and France's CAC-40 <.FCHI> to open up around 0.2 to 0.9 percent.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> rose 1.4 percent while emerging Asian currencies also rose broadly.

A government source said on Tuesday that Greek conservative party leader Antonis Samaras was expected to deliver a letter of commitment to international lenders on Wednesday, meeting a key condition for a bailout agreement.

Asian shares, including Shanghai, Hong Kong and Japan, also broke through key technical resistances, after Zhou Xiaochuan said Beijing remains confident in the euro and in the ability of euro zone members to solve their debt problems.

The comment was in line with previous statements but suggested the European bailout fund could be leveraged by outside equity contributions, increasing its firepower, said Guy Stear, head of research with Societe Generale in Hong Kong.

The reality is that people are looking for good news as confirmation of things, the better tone, since the beginning of the year, Stear said.

Japan's Nikkei <.N225> rallied more than 2 percent to six-month highs, as Zhou's comments cemented risk positive sentiment stemming from the Bank of Japan's surprise easing action the day before.

The yen's drop to a 3-1/2-month low against the dollar of 78.67 bolstered exports, putting the Nikkei index ahead of its Asian peers. <.T>

The euro hit an intraday high of $1.3174, moving away from Tuesday's low around $1.3080.

The BOJ's aggressive quantitative easing had a rare global impact, mirroring markets' heavy reliance on central bank funding to ride out uncertainty while the euro zone debt crisis drags on.

Excess liquidity in the global market is pushing investors back to equities, and the latest move by the central bank (BOJ) has tipped the dollar/yen rate to a favorable range so the market rally looks likely to continue for some time, said Hiroyuki Fukunaga, CEO of Investrust.

Other assets -- copper, oil and gold -- also rose along with the recovery in the euro and equities and a decline in the dollar.

U.S. crude edged up 0.9 percent to $101.66 a barrel and Brent crude added 0.7 percent to $118.14.

London copper gained 1 percent to $8,501 a tonne, with markets also seeking clues on Chinese demand. Spot gold added 0.4 percent to $1,727 an ounce.


The euro zone's flash gross domestic product for the fourth quarter will be released later in the session, with economists forecasting 0.7 percent growth from a year earlier, shrinking from a 1.4 percent year-on-year gain in the previous quarter.

A slowdown would make it even more difficult for highly-indebted euro zone countries to pay down their debt, even when the ECB's cheap loans have helped ease their refinancing efforts by driving down their yields.

France's biggest listed bank, BNP Paribas , ended 2011 with a 50.6 percent drop in quarterly net profit, hit by losses on Greek debt and asset sales that nonetheless helped it meet tougher capital targets six months early.

Euro zone finance ministers dropped plans on Tuesday for a special face-to-face meeting on Greece's new 130 billion euro international bailout because Greece has shown little sign of meeting the deadline to provide a firm commitment to reforms. Getting a bailout is crucial for Athens, with 14.5 billion euros in debt repayments falling due on March 20.

Euro ministers will hold a telephone conference call before a regular meeting already scheduled for February 20.

Europe gave Greece until Wednesday to specify how 325 million euros of the 3.3 billion euros demanded in budget savings will be achieved and to give a written commitment to implement the terms of the deal.


Asian credit markets firmed slightly, with the spreads on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment grade index tightening by a couple of basis points from Tuesday.

Sterling recovered from a two-week low against the dollar hit on Tuesday after Moody's warning, but remained vulnerable before the Bank of England's latest growth and price forecasts due later in the session. The forecasts could offer clues on whether more monetary easing is likely after the BoE increased quantitative easing last week.

Risk sentiment is trading sideways, trapped between ECB support and solvency concerns, Barclays Capital said in a note.

(Additional reporting by Mari Saito in TOKYO; Editing by Richard Pullin)