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Markets, euro steady after Greek default

Markets appear to have taken in their stride news that Greece has defaulted on its latest repayment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Meanwhile, the US has urged all parties to help Greece achieve growth.

The euro and stock markets appeared largely unaffected in trading in Asia on Wednesday, after Greece became the first developed nation to default on a debt.

The IMF officially confirmed shortly after midnight Central European Time that the 1.6-billion-euro ($1.8-billion) debt due by Greece had not been paid. Failure to meet the payment meant that the country officially fell into default.

With the failure to repay appearing to have been widely anticipated, traders were instead focused on the outcome of a referendum on Sunday. Any negative impact on markets appeared slight.

Markets indeed showed a positive trend, with Tokyo rising 0.22 percent, Sydney adding 0.47 percent and Seoul being 0.20 percent higher. The euro largely held its own, despite some losses against the dollar.

"There is so much uncertainty, speculation, truth and partial truth that many markets are in stasis; waiting to see which way this goes," Emma Lawson, senior currency strategist at National Australia Bank, said in a note.

US calls for compromise

Meanwhile, a statement from the US Treasury Department on Tuesday encouraged all parties to keep working towards a deal.

"The United States will continue to encourage all parties involved to press forward with negotiations that put Greece on a path toward economic growth within the eurozone on the basis of needed economic reforms and requisite financing that achieves debt sustainability," the statement said.

US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that he did not expect any major shocks to the US economy from a default, but said his government had planned for any contingency in the Greek crisis.

A last-minute request for a one-month extension of Greece's bailout program had been unanimously rejected by eurozone members on Tuesday.

"It would be crazy to extend the program," said Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads the eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers. "So that cannot happen and will not happen."

No change of offer before poll

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her Christian Democrat (CDU) party that she ruled out further negotiations with Greece ahead of Sunday's referendum in which Greeks will vote whether to accept creditors' demands for budget reforms.

"Before the planned referendum is carried out, we will not negotiate over anything new," the DPA news agency quoted Merkel as saying.

Tsipras was reported on Tuesday to be

considering

a

proposal by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

to head off default. Under the proposal, Tsipras would have been required to accept the terms of a deal he rejected at the weekend, and would have had to recommend a "Yes" vote to his people for Greece to stay in the bailout structure and eurozone.

rc/jr (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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