* Stocks gain, gold eases as EU bank worries fade
* Busy week includes talk by Fed’s Yellen, China Q2 GDP
* Oil near three-month lows despite violence in Gaza
By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY, July 14 (Reuters) - Asian shares rose on Monday as investors put aside concerns about euro zone banks and looked forward to corporate earnings and a raft of global economic events, including testimony from the head of the Federal Reserve.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.4 percent, with Seoul putting on 0.3 percent. Japan’s Nikkei bounced 0.88 percent after several sessions of losses.
Singapore’s main index went flat after the city-state reported a surprise 0.8 percent annualised contraction in economic activity for the second quarter, led by a steep drop in manufacturing. [TOP/CEN>
Financial spreadbetters expected the FTSE 100 to open up 0.1 percent, the DAX 0.3 percent and the CAC 40 0.4 percent.
European markets had calmed on Friday as investors decided that losses associated with the founding family of Banco Espirito Santo were unlikely to disrupt Portugal’s financial system or revive broader worries about the bloc’s weaker economies.
The S&P 500 EMini contract was trading up 0.2 percent on Monday, after the cash index ended with similar gains on Friday. The Dow closed up 0.17 percent, while the Nasdaq added 0.44 percent.
Attention will be on shares in Citigroup, which sources said it would announce on Monday a deal to pay $7 billion to resolve a U.S. government investigation into shoddy mortgage-backed securities.
Many of the major U.S. banks report earnings this week, along with big tech names including Intel Corp, Yahoo Inc, eBay Inc and Google Inc.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s two-day appearance in the U.S. Congress from Tuesday will dominate global markets, which want above all to know how long rates might stay near zero once the central bank ends its asset-buying programme.
The futures market <0#FF:> rallied sharply last week as investors again pushed out the likely timing of a rate hike into the second half of 2015.
Data from the U.S. this week includes retail sales, industrial production and several housing indicators.
In Asia, China reports gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter on Wednesday, along with other data including retail sales for June.
Analysts estimate the Chinese economy grew 7.4 percent compared to the same quarter last year, aided by modest government stimulus measures, and anything less would be likely to unsettle markets.
The Bank of Japan concludes a two-day meeting on Tuesday and might have to trim its growth forecasts in the wake of disappointing second-quarter data, though it is expected to keep policy steady.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi will speak at the European Parliament later on Monday while the EU 28 Summit on Wednesday will see Jean Claude Juncker confirmed as EC President.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and his deputy Andrew Bailey face questions from the British parliament on Tuesday, while jobs figures the day after will influence the outlook for interest rates.
Currency markets were quiet on Monday with the dollar index a touch firmer at 80.226, a level it has gravitated towards since recovering from a two-month low of 79.740 on July 1. The euro bought $1.3602, having stuck to a tight range around $1.3600 for over a week now.
Against the yen, the greenback fetched 101.41, holding off a seven-week trough of 101.06 plumbed last Thursday. The euro was near 137.95 yen, recovering from last week’s fall to a five-month low of 137.50.
Gold slipped back to $1,328.50 an ounce, and away from a 3-1/2 month high of $1,345 reached last week. Prices for the safe-haven metal had been supported in part by the intensified fighting in Gaza.
Yet oil markets seem to have become less concerned that the violence in the Middle East would affect fuel supply in any major way, pulling prices lower over the last few weeks.
On Monday, Brent crude oil was off 2 cents at $106.64 a barrel, not far from a three month-trough of $106.27. U.S. crude shed 42 cents to $100.41 per barrel. (Editing by Richard Borsuk, Kim Coghill & Eric Meijer)