World stocks set for positive April as big ticket M&As return

SYDNEY (Reuters) - World stocks are set to notch up a positive month for the first time since January, as a slew of positive earnings from U.S. technology firms and marquee M&A deals help soothe memories of February tremors.

A seemingly successful Korean summit between the leaders of the North and South on Friday added the icing on the cake, pushing Asian bourses higher on Monday.

MSCI’s all-country index of global equities .MIWD00000PUS is up 1.3 percent for April ahead of another torrent of first quarter earnings, with Apple (AAPL.O) the standout report on Tuesday.

This after strong earnings reports from Facebook (FB.O) and Amazon (AMZN.O) gave tech stocks across the world a shot in arm last week.

Reports of large M&A deals, led by T-Mobile’s proposed merger with Sprint in the U.S. and the Sainsbury’s and ASDA merger in the UK, also kept global stock markets firmly in the spotlight.

“Large M&A news shows that confidence is there for making big deals. And while I would suggest not all of the recent deals are positive, the ASDA-Sainsbury’s one looks particularly good and the stock price reactions seems to bear that out,” said Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets.

Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) shares shot up 20 percent at the open after the retailer agreed a 13.3 billion pound merger with Walmart’s ASDA, and the news shook up retail stocks in Europe.

Overall, the pan-continental STOXX index rose 0.1 percent while Germany's DAX .GDAXI gained 0.3 percent, buoyed by investors' improved risk appetite.

This after Asian shares extended gains on Monday as tensions in the Korean Peninsula eased and first-quarter earnings shone, although some investors were cautious about the outlook amid the backdrop of a simmering U.S.-China trade dispute.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS climbed one percent, adding to a similar rise on Friday. The index is now poised for a modest rise this month after two consecutive losses.

South Korea's KOSPI index .KS11 jumped 0.8 percent and is set to end April more than 2.5 percent higher following record profits from tech giant Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) and after a successful inter-Korean summit.

On Friday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North’s leader Kim Jong Un agreed to end hostilities and work toward “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean peninsula.

“The direction of travel is more positive that it was at the end of last year and geopolitics is now not the concern it was in the beginning of April,” said Hewson of CMC Markets.

“But the potential for trade wars would be the main issue for me going forward, that’s the clear and present danger and what effect it may have on oil prices,” he added.

Oil prices eased from recent highs with Brent crude futures LCOc1 off 94 cents at $73.70 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLc1 lost 67 cents to $67.43.

The dollar meanwhile held steady just below its strongest level since mid-January against as basket of currencies .DXY as traders awaited U.S. consumer spending numbers to see whether the greenback can continue its recent run of gains.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is also due to meet this week, and while no rate hike is expected, investors will look for clues on the future pace of hikes.

“There might be a tweak to the inflation language acknowledging the move towards two percent on year-on-year inflation rather than ‘have continued to run below two percent’”, Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid said in a note.

The U.S. payroll number is also due Friday.

German inflation numbers are also set to be reported later on Monday, with investors expecting the continent’s largest economy to record consumer price rises of 1.6 percent.

The question is whether this will translate to a push for euro zone inflation towards the European Central Bank target of just below two percent.

Euro zone bond yields have remained well below the year’s highs. Germany’s 10-year government bond yield was up a basis point on Monday but still firmly below the 0.60 percent mark. DE10YT=RR

Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan, Editing by William Maclean

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