European markets surge on Greek deal hopes

LONDON - Hopes that a deal between Greece and its creditors could be cobbled together in time to avoid a messy Greek exit from the euro sent stock markets across Europe sharply higher on Wednesday.

In Europe, the CAC-40 in France was up 2.5 percent at 4,908 while Germany's DAX rose 2.1 percent to 11,171. The FTSE 100 index of leading European shares was 1.4 percent higher at 6,613. Wall Street was poised for solid gains with Dow futures up 0.8 percent and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.7 percent.

The gains in Europe come despite Greece's failure Tuesday to get an agreement to extend its bailout program with European creditors and its failure to make a roughly 1.6 billion-euro debt repayment due to the International Monetary Fund.

The hopes have been stirred by a two-page letter sent to Greece's creditors on Tuesday by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. In it, he appears to be making big concessions in a request for a new bailout deal.

However, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble appeared to pour cold water on the prospects of any deal, certainly before Sunday's planned referendum on recent creditor proposals.

Finance ministers from the 19-country eurozone are due to hold a teleconference later over the new proposals.

"The acceptance does come with conditions attached, which is hardly surprising, but they do appear to be watered down compared to previous demands," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

While much of the focus in financial markets is on Greece, there's a raft of U.S. economic data to come this week, notably on Thursday when the monthly nonfarm payrolls report is published. The data can often set the market tone for a week or two, especially at a time when the U.S. Federal Reserve is mulling when to start raising interest rates.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index edged 0.5 percent higher to 20,329.32 after a central bank survey showed businesses holding unexpectedly optimistic outlooks despite recent weak data. The Shanghai Composite Index, which has seen wild swings over the past few days, tipped back into negative territory, tumbling 5.2 percent to 4,053.70. South Korea's Kospi rose 1.1 percent to 2,097.89, while Australia's S&P ASX/200 rose 1.0 percent to 5,515.70. Shares in Southeast Asia were higher. Hong Kong's market was closed for a holiday.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 79 cents to $58.68 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 70 cents to $62.89 in London.

In currency trading, the dollar was firm. The euro was down 02 percent at $1.1106 while the dollar rose 0.4 percent to 122.91 yen.