European stocks traded modestly higher Monday, while global equity markets extended gains following their best week in more than two years as investors continue to focus on robust corporate earnings and improving economic growth.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index, the region's broadest measure of share prices, was marked 0.05% higher in the opening hour of trading, although volumes were thin owing to the tail end of New Year celebrations in China and the Presidents' Day holiday in the United States. Benchmarks in Germany and France were trading more firmly in the green, however, rising 0.05% and 0.01% respectively thanks to stronger financial sector stocks.
Britain's FTSE 100 drifted 0.1% in the opening hour, as the pound traded past the 1.40 mark against a weaker U.S. dollar amid increasing expectations of a near-term rate hike from the Bank of England.
The dollar index, a measure of the greenback against a basket of six global currencies, was marked at 89.15 in early European trading as benchmark U.S. Treasury bond yields eased from multi-year highs, with 10-year notes trading at 2.87%.
U.S. equity futures were also in the green, with contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 64 points, or 0.25%, from their Friday close while those tied to the broader S&P 500 were seen 8.5 points, or 0.31%, to the upside after the benchmark's best five-day stretch since 2011.
Just of 50 U.S companies will publish fourth quarter earnings this week, including Walmart Stores (WMT) , Home Depot (HD) , Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE) and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B)
With around two thirds of the S&P 500 reporting so far this season, Thomson Lipper expects fourth quarter earnings to grow 15% from the same period in 2016, compared to a 14.6% expansion rate for the Stoxx Europe 600.
Overnight in Asia, stocks extended their six-day winning streak, with the region-wide MSCI Asia ex-Japan index adding to its best week in at least five years with a 0.4% gain heading into the closing bell. Stocks in Japan were also on the move, with the Nikkei 225 rising 1.97% to ending the session at 22,149.21 points even as the yen continues to find favor against the beaten-down greenback.
Global oil prices were also rising in Monday trading, taking crude to a two-week high as investors extended bets on stronger economic growth and worried about rising geopolitical tensions in the Gulf region.
Brent crude futures for April delivery were marked 0.5% higher from their Friday close at $65.17 per barrel in early European dealing while WTI contracts for the same month, the benchmark for U.S. prices, were seen 0.6% higher at $62.06.