Greece failed again to clinch a deal with its international creditors on Thursday, setting up a last-ditch effort on Saturday to either avert a default next week or start preparing to protect the euro zone from financial market turmoil.
European shares hit a near four-month low and yields on lower-rated euro zone sovereign debt climbed to their highest point since November, as financial markets braced for the possibility of Greece defaulting on its debt.
Greece's labor minister said on Tuesday Athens would soon conclude a deal with its foreign creditors that could unlock further loans to the cash-starved country.
The euro tumbled on Tuesday and the region's stocks and bonds jumped after the European Central Bank suggested it may speed up its 1 trillion euro bond-buying campaign slightly to account for lower market liquidity in high summer.
The euro hit a three-month high against the dollar on Thursday, lifted by another lurch higher in euro zone government bond yields that again kept global stock markets in check.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras forecast a happy end soon to fraught negotiations with creditors on a cash-for-reform deal, and the chairman of euro zone finance ministers said talks were making progress, though not enough for a deal next Monday.
The head of the Eurogroup said on Tuesday that a recent shakeup of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' negotiating team would not by itself resolve the impasse between Greece and its creditors, and Athens would need new loans to stay afloat.
Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that if Greece were to leave the euro zone, there would be an inevitable contagion effect.
Even if it survives the next three months teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, Greece may have blown its best chance of a long-term debt deal by alienating its euro zone partners when it most needed their support.
Euro zone partners set Greece a deadline of six working days to improve proposed economic reforms in time for finance ministers to consider some emergency funding to keep the country afloat after it makes a repayment to the IMF on Thursday.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said on Sunday that Greece "intends to meet all obligations to all its creditors, ad infinitum," seeking to quell default fears ahead of a big loan payment Athens owes the IMF later this week.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will meet International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde in Washington on Sunday to discuss a set of planned reforms that Athens hopes will unlock much-needed bailout funds.
Thousands of people are expected to march in Frankfurt on Wednesday to protest against austerity policies they blame on the European Central Bank, as the ECB inaugurates its new high-rise headquarters.
The European Central Bank's bond purchases will create an unsustainable stock market rally and are unlikely to boost euro zone investments, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis warned on Saturday.
Warning Greece it had "no time to lose", euro zone ministers agreed technical talks between finance experts from Athens and its international creditors would start on Wednesday with the aim of unlocking further funding.