European stocks edged higher Monday, although volumes were thin in most markets around the world owing to today's President's Day holiday, as investors continued to key on developments in U.S.-China trade talks.
Gains in the region were capped by concern that the White House may opt to impose tariffs on European-made cars now that President Donald Trump has received a report from the Commerce Department that assessed their risk to national security. The President will have 90 days to review the report and make a decision.
Broader market sentiment, however, was linked to the progress in last week's trade talks between high-level delegations of both the U.S. and China in Beijing, which are slated to continue this week in Washington, with the aim of reaching a comprehensive pact by the March 2 deadline or, as President Trump has hinted, extend the talks for a further period of time in order to address the myriad issues that still separate the world's two biggest economies.
"An extension looks the most likely outcome, with 90 days just not enough time to reach a comprehensive deal," said Craig Erlam of Singapore-based brokerage Oanada. "Trump has indicated that he could support an extension despite claiming to like tariffs during his press conference on Friday, something that will comfort investors at a time when global growth concerns are posing a significant risk for markets."
The MSCI Asia ex-Japan index, the broadest measure of regional share prices, was marked 0.9% higher heading into the final hours of trading, while Japan's Nikkei 225 added 1.82% to close at a two-month high if 21,281.85 points.
Europe's benchmark Stoxx 600 edged 0.16% lower in the opening hours of trading, although Germany's DAX index slipped 0.12% thanks to losses from index heavyweights Volkswagen AG, Siemens AG and Adidas AG.
Britain's FTSE 100 was also drifting into the red over the opening hour of trading, and marked 0.32% into the red, as the pound climbed to 1.2908 against a modestly weaker U.S. dollar and held down gains for the U.K. benchmark.
Global oil prices extended gains for a fifth consecutive session, taking prices to the highest levels of the year, as the U.S. dollar index eased to 96.83 and investors focused on the near-term supply implications of OPEC+ production cuts and sanctions on the sale of Venezuela crude into the United States.
Brent crude contracts for April delivery, the global benchmark, were marked 9 cents higher from their Wednesday close in New York and changing hands at $66.33 per barrel, the highest since November 19 and a move that extends gains from the December 24 trough past 26%.
WTI contracts for March delivery -- which closed at the lowest level in two weeks earlier this week -- were seen 43 cents higher at $56.02 per barrel, the highest since November 14.