And finally, the head of Europe’s bailout mechanism is dropping some hints that Greece could potentially return to the financial markets.

Klaus Regling, head of the European Stability Mechanism, says it would be wise for all involved to remember that Greece hopes to finance itself once its bailout ends.

But speaking after the eurogroup meeting wrapped up in Brussels, Regling also warned Athens that investors will need confidence that it is sticking to its economic reforms.

After a less than riveting session, European stock markets closed a little higher tonight.

In London the FTSE 100 ended 19 points higher at 7370. The smaller FTSE 250 finished in the red, though, dragged down by poor old Carillion (which lost 40% after that dire profits warning).

The German DAX closed almost 0.5% higher, thanks to those trade surplus figures, while the French, Spanish and Italian markets also gained ground.

Newsflash from Brussels: the Eurozone’s bailout vehicle has finally disbursed Greece’s long-awaited loan tranche.

That facility, worth €7.7bn, is needed by Athens to repay earlier borrowings that mature this summer.

But as Helena Smith reports, Greece’s finance minister isn’t actually attending today’s euro group meeting ….

She writes:

Tongues are wagging in Athens at the rare sight of a euro group starting without a Greek finance minister attending.

Never mind that it is one hundred plus euro groups into the Greek crisis, today’s is being noticed precisely because Euclid Tsakalotos, the country’s finance minister, will not be attending. Instead it is George Chouliarakis, the Greek minister’s deputy, who has shown up for the meeting. Tsakalotos is said to have come down with a painful ear infection.

But there is talk that the Oxford-educated economics professor may also have decided to stay away because Greece, for once, is not on the agenda. After year of waiting for a long-stalled compliance review to be completed, the debt-stricken country just received €7.7bn today – the first instalment of a third tranche of financial assistance approved by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) on Friday.

What comes in, of course, will go straight out with €6.9bn being used for debt serving needs and €0.8bn for arrears clearance. Athens will receive a further €800m “subject to Greece making significant progress on arrears clearance” by September 1st bringing the total amount of assistance the nation has received from the ESM to €181.2bn.

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