Asia stocks gain as Greece, creditors narrow differences

SEOUL: Asian stock rose for a second day on Friday as the Greek government proposed a broad financial overhaul to its creditors and Beijing's attempts to arrest a sharp slide in the Chinese market appeared to be working. But most Asian markets were still in the red from a week earlier.

KEEPING SCORE: China's Shanghai Composite Index jumped 5.3 percent to 3,904.91. The index was down 0.2 percent from one week earlier. Gains in other markets were moderate. South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.2 percent to 2,031.17 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 2.5 percent to 24,992.38 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.4 percent to 5,492.00. Japan underperformed the region with Nikkei 225 finishing 0.4 percent lower at 19,779.83.

GREEK SAGA: Greece and its European creditors appeared to be narrowing their differences after Athens offered a raft of proposals to reduce the cost of pensions, hike taxes and cut state spending. The proposals raised hopes that Greece can get a rescue deal that will prevent its exit from the euro. Its European creditors said they were open to discussing how to ease the country's debt load.

THE QUOTE: "Greece's proposal to its European creditors appears to significantly improve the prospects for a weekend agreement on extending further credit," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets. He said an agreement between Greece and its creditors is still not certain. But the fact that Greece has proposed a fiscal package along the lines of the one recently demanded by its European creditors is a "significant step in the direction of compromise."

CHINA SURGE: Chinese stocks jumped for a second day following a three-week slide that authorities tried to arrest with increasingly desperate support measures. The Shanghai Composite Index has dived about 30 percent from its June 12 peak. In the latest move to stabilize the market, the China Securities Regulatory Commission said late Wednesday that it had ordered investors holding more than 5 percent of a company's shares not to sell any of their holdings for the next six months.

WALL STREET: Wall Street closed higher on Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 was up 0.2 percent to 2,051.31. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.2 percent to 17,548.62. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.3 percent to 4,922.40.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell rose 83 cents to $53.61 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.13 to close at $52.78 a barrel in New York on Thursday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 81 cents to $59.42 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The euro strengthened to $1.1114 from $1.1065 in the previous global trading session. The dollar rose to 121.95 yen from 121.71 yen.