World stocks recover

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Bullsandbears REUTERS A bull and a bear styrofoam figurine.

London - Stock markets in Europe and Asia rose on Monday as investors put aside concern about euro zone banks and looked forward to corporate earnings and a raft of global economic events, including testimony from the head of the US Federal Reserve.

Europe's biggest markets gained more than half a percent and Portugal rallied by 1 percent, after worries about a Portuguese bank last week caused the first sign this year of a return of nerves over Europe's southern half.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4 percent, with Seoul gaining 0.3 percent.

Japan's Nikkei bounced 0.9 percent after several sessions of losses.

European markets had calmed on Friday as investors decided that losses associated with the founding family of Banco Espirito Santo were unlikely to disrupt Portugal's financial system or revive broader worries about the bloc's weaker economies.

Suspicion remains that stocks and a number of other markets buoyed by the money the Fed has poured into the global economy are headed for a fall.

But it may take a clearer sign that US interest rates are about to rise, tightening that ultra-loose monetary policy, to burst any bubble.

“This continual sense of calm before the storm endures,” said Simon Smith, the chief economist at retail foreign exchange trading platform Fxpro.

While stock market investors had become more nervous and calls for a pullback in indices rose, he said, the drop on Monday in gold, the traditional safe haven, suggested the market was growing more optimistic.

Gold reached a 16-week high last week.

Portuguese bond yields fell by almost 10 basis points after BES, the country's biggest listed bank, took steps to reassure investors of its stability.

Spanish, Italian and Greek bond yields also fell.

“The markets will recover a bit,” said Emile Cardon, an economist at Rabobank.

“But I'm a bit cautious. There's still reason to believe that not all problems were resolved in the euro zone and we will continue to see bouts of volatility during a fragile recovery.”

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi will speak in the European Parliament later on Monday.



It is not just around Europe that there are concerns.

Singapore's main index went flat after the city-state reported a surprise 0.8 percent annualised contraction in economic activity for the second quarter, led by a steep drop in manufacturing.

Attention will be on shares in Citigroup, which sources said it would announce on Monday a deal to pay $7 billion to resolve a US government investigation into shoddy mortgage-backed securities.

The first quarterly earnings have not been especially auspicious and many of the major US banks report earnings this week, along with big tech names, including Intel, Yahoo, eBay and Google.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's appearance in the US Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday will dominate global markets, which want above all to know how long US rates might stay near zero once the central bank ends its asset-buying programme.

The futures market rallied last week as investors again pushed out the likely timing of a rate hike into the second half of 2015.

Data from the US this week include retail sales, industrial production and several housing indicators.

China reports gross domestic product for the second quarter on Wednesday and retail sales for June.

Currency markets were quiet with the dollar index a touch lower at 80.102.

Oil markets seem less concerned that the violence in the Middle East will affect supply in any major way, pulling prices lower over the last few weeks.

On Monday, Brent crude oil was off 2 cents at $106.45 a barrel, not far from a three month-trough of $106.27.

US crude shed 51 cents to $100.32 per barrel. - Reuters

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