Asia stocks rise, Europe falls over Greek standoff

Brokers work at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, on Feb. 17, 2015.

DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images

BEIJING - Asian stocks were mostly higher Tuesday but European markets fell after Greek debt talks broke down, raising the prospect Athens might leave the euro currency.

In early trading, France's CAC-40 tumbled 1.2 percent to 4,692.99 and Germany's DAX fell 1.3 percent to 10,786.12. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.4 percent to 6,832.75. Wall Street looked set to for a muted open after a three-day holiday weekend. Dow and S&P 500 futures were flat. On Friday, the S&P closed at a record high.

Greece's European creditors told it to ask for an extension to its existing bailout program before further talks on its financing can take place. After five years of punishing austerity, Greece is seeking more generous terms for paying off its huge debt. The ultimatum came after a meeting of the finance ministers of the 19 euro nations ended in seeming acrimony after just three hours. If no agreement is reached by the end of the month, financial markets think Greece might have little option but to default and stop using the euro currency.

"Europe will remain an overarching risk story for investors," said IG strategist Evan Lucas in a commentary. "Russia and China are watching this situation very closely and both would be in Athens very quickly to discuss how they can assist the Greeks. In the more likely scenario of Greece remaining in the EU, the question remains of whether the ECB would provide additional support, looking to provide stimulus rather than forcing further austerity."

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.8 percent to 3,246.91 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.2 percent at 24,784.88. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 shed 0.1 percent to 17,987.09 while Sydney and Singapore fell. Seoul's Kospi added 0.2 percent to 1,961.45 and Manila also rose. Indian markets were closed for a holiday.

U.S. benchmark crude was up 35 cents to $53.13 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In the previous session, the contract gained $1.57 to close at $52.78. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 35 cents to $61.75.

The dollar rose to 118.57 yen from 118.27 yen on Monday. The euro rose to $1.1361 from $1.1335.