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Business

Nikkei hits 15-year high on Greek hopes

Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock index jumped more than 1 percent on Tuesday, hitting a fresh 15-year high on hopes that Athens could reach a cash-for-reforms deal with its international creditors by the end of the week.

The Nikkei 225 jumped 381.23 points to end at 20,809.42, the first time the index had topped the 20,700 mark since April 2000. The gains followed

rallies in European and US stock markets

on Monday.

Investors found reprieve in the latest reforms proposed by Greece, which high-ranking European officials have welcomed as promising first steps that could help Athens unlock the last 7.2 billion-euro ($8.1-billion) payment of its international aid program.

Without that payment, Athens won't be able to repay 1.6 billion euros it owes to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by the end of the month.

'Convinced'

"I am convinced that we will reach an agreement," Pierre Moscovici, the EU's commissioner for economic affairs, told a French radio station.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker echoed that sentiment, saying he too was "convinced" that both sides could come to an agreement to end the five-month standoff over Greece's finances.

After a crisis summit in Brussels on Monday, the leaders of countries using the euro ordered their finance ministers to reconvene on Wednesday to thrash out the final details of a deal. In the meantime, staff-level experts will comb through the exact details of the proposals put forward by the Greek government.

"It's difficult to judge without knowing the proposal's contents in detail, but the market appears to be seeing it as a step forward," Thoshihiko Matsuno, a chief strategist at SMBC Friend Securities, told Bloomberg News.

Optimism over the prospects of a Greek deal seemed to outweigh news of a slight contraction in manufacturing activity recorded in June. A flash survey, the purchasing managers' index (PMI), dipped to a seasonally adjusted level of 49.9 from 50.9 in May. Anything below 50 signifies contraction.

cjc/uhe (AFP, Reuters)

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