European stocks extended gains Monday, with retail and bank shares leading the advance, as investors continue to favor regional equities over their U.S. counterparts amid improving economic fundamentals and ultra-low interest rates from the European Central Bank.

The region-wide Stoxx Europe 600 index, the broadest measure of share prices, was marked 0.72% higher, its biggest gain since early May, in the opening 90 minutes of trading to 391.40 points. The benchmark's 3.7% gain over the past three months has outpaced the 2.7% advance for the S&P 500 and the 2.25% increase for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. 

U.S. stocks are also set to kick-off the week on a positive note, with the Dow poised for a 71-point gain, according to equity futures prices. The broader S&P 500 looks ready to add 7.5 points, or 0.3%, while the Nasdaq is priced for a stronger 37-point, or 0.65% advance.

Germany's DAX performance index and France's CAC-40 bluechip benchmark were both looking at solid 1%-plus gains in early trading, with energy providers boosting the former amid ongoing merger speculation and bank and industrial-sector shares propping up the later. Britain's FTSE 100 was marked around 0.56% higher in the opening 90 minutes of trading, but had some of its gains limited by a stronger pound, which added around 0.25% to 1.2806 against the U.S. dollar as the country kicks-off Brexit negotiations with the European Union later today.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Banks index added 1.08% and was quoted at 181.95 by mid-morning, led by a 1.3% gain for Deutsche Bank AG (DB) and a 1.7% advance for France's biggest lender, BNP Paribas SA (BNPQY) . In Switzerland, Credit Suisse AG (CS) led gainers with a 3% climb while cross-town rival UBS AG (OUBSF) was marked 0.54% higher. 

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