Agreement gives Athens time to repay loans

FTSE 100 falls just shy of all-time closing high as Greek bailout deal agreed

Alex TsiprasThe FTSE 100 index of leading shares ended the week just shy of its all-time closing high as investors bet on a positive outcome to the talks on Greece and better news on the public finances.

Their hopes were realised late last night when Eurozone ministers agreed in principle to give Greece a four-month extension to repay its loans. The deal avoided the likelihood of a default and gave both sides some reason to feel they had secured a partial victory.

Greek ministers must now return on Monday with a revised list of actions to be undertaken that will allow the agreement to be ratified.

It is not the end of the story for Greece’s new left-wing government led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (pictured) which has been forced to pull back on its demands for an end to austerity measures. But it does give it time to negotiate and shows to the electorate that it will do more to ease the plight of citizens.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis insisted he had averted “recessionary measures” and said the government still hoped to raise the minimum wage and rehire some public sector workers.

“Nobody is going to ask us to impose upon our economy and society measures that we don’t agree with,” he said.

The euro rebounded against the dollar and global equity markets surged toecord closing highs while Greek government bond yields fell on optimism for a debt deal.

The FTSE closed up 26.3 points or 0.4% at 6,915.21, a 15-year high and close to its 6,930.2 record close on the last trading day of 1999. The Dow Jones and the S&P ended the day at record levels. The Dow rose 154.67 points to 18,140.44 and the S&P added 12.85 points to 2,110.30.

Chancellor George Osborne said the government was on track to meet its borrowing targets before May’s national election after income tax receipts rose by £8.8 billion in January, producing the biggest monthly surplus in seven years.

The increase in 35% higher than the previous year earlier, and are thought to have been boosted by delays to paying bonuses in the 2013/14 tax year.

Standard Life performed well on the back of good results, its shares up 2.72% while oil and mining sectors also rose. Glencore, Tullow Oil, BG Group and Anglo American finished with decent gains with oil producers in particular benefiting from a 1% increase in the price of Brent crude to $60.8 a barrel.

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