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Global stocks rise on continuing optimism on Greek debt deal

TOKYO - Global shares rose Wednesday, and Japan's benchmark hit an 18-year high, amid optimism about a bailout deal between Greece and its creditors.

France's CAC 40 fell 0.1 percent in early trading to 5,053.44. But Germany's DAX gained 0.2 percent to 11,563.69 and Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent to 6,844.41. U.S. shares were set to drift lower with the S&P 500 futures inching down 0.2 percent; Dow futures lost 0.3 percent.

Greece faces defaulting on its debt without new loans, but appeared to be moving closer to an agreement to secure new funding. A Greek default and the nation's potential exit from the euro currency could shake financial markets.

Investors also remain focused on when the U.S. Federal Reserve might increase its key interest rate for the first time in nearly a decade. Fed Gov. Jerome Powell said at an event hosted by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that he expects the U.S. central bank to begin raising its benchmark interest rate in September, with a second rate rise coming in December.

"There is no doubt that Greece remains very much in the headlines with focus shifting to the Eurogroup meeting today, ahead of tomorrow's EU leaders' summit. Apart from securing an agreement between Greece and its creditors sometime this week, Greek PM Tsipras also need to drum up domestic political support for the deal," said Bernard Aw, market strategist with IG in Singapore.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.3 percent to 20,868.03, its highest in 18 years. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.2 percent to 2,085.53. Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged up 0.2 percent to 27,391.53. Other regional stock markets were mostly higher, including Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.

Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery rose 15 cents to $61.16 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract for U.S. crude for July delivery expired at $59.68. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 3 cents to $64.48 in London.

The euro was little changed at $1.1217. The dollar cost 123.89 yen, up slightly from 123.62 yen in the previous trading session.

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