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. 

Amazon's big deal still in focus.
Amazon's big deal still in focus.

Friday's massive takeover deal between Amazon Inc. (AMZN) and upscale food retailer Whole Foods Market Inc (WFM) , valued at just under $14 billion, had a mixed impact on U.S. markets, but could be a precursor to sector consolidation and further deal-making.

Ocado plc (OCDDY) shares surged the most in nearly a year Monday, gaining around 7.25% -- the biggest jump since August -- to change hands at the top of the Stoxx Europe 600 at 295.90 pence each and valuing the U.K.-based online grocery store at around £1.9 billion ($2.43 billion)

And while the three major U.S. benchmarks ended the Friday session with little change, stocks in Asia overnight traded firmly higher, with the MSCI Asia ex-Japan adding +0.8% and the Nikkei 225 in Japan closing at a two-week high of 20,607.75 points

Global oil prices continued on their downward trend in early Monday trading after another week of data indicating faster U.S. production and slowing international imports.

Houston-based oil services provider Baker Hughes said Friday that producers added 6 rigs in the Gulf region last week, taking the total to 933 and the 2017 additions to 275.

West Texas intermediate crude for July delivery was marked 15 cents per barrel lower at $44.56 while Brent crude contracts for August, the global benchmark, were seen 13 cents lower at $47.24 per barrel at 10:00 BST.

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