World stocks rise amid U.S.-China trade hopes; oil gains

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of stocks around the world reached its highest point in about two months on Monday amid hopes for improving trade relations between the United States and China, while oil prices climbed further.

Wall Street’s main stock indexes registered slim gains, pulling back from stronger increases during the session.

U.S. President Donald Trump pledged on Sunday to help ZTE Corp “get back into business, fast” after a U.S. ban crippled the Chinese technology company, offering a job-saving concession to Beijing ahead of high-stakes trade talks this week.

MSCI's index of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.12 percent, hitting a roughly two-month high during the session.

Growing trade tensions have worried investors, with concerns about a global trade war feeding into increased volatility in the stock market in recent months.

“It seems like there’s a little less concern about a trade war with China given some of the overtures that President Trump made,” said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana. “They’re hoping for a dying down of the trade war rhetoric and, quite frankly, they’re probably looking for some successful deals (to be) made.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 68.24 points, or 0.27 percent, to 24,899.41, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 2.41 points, or 0.09 percent, to 2,730.13 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 8.43 points, or 0.11 percent, to 7,411.32.

Energy shares .SPNY were the top-performing major group, helped by oil price gains, while defensive sectors such as real estate .SPLRCR and utilities .SPLRCU lagged.

In Asia, Shanghai's SSE Composite index .SSEC rose 0.3 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index .HSI climbed 1.4 percent, and Japan's Nikkei .N225 rose 0.5 percent.

Investors also pointed to improving sentiment about geopolitical tensions involving North Korea. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that Washington would agree to lift sanctions on North Korea if the country agrees to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, a move that would create economic prosperity that “will rival” that of South Korea.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 lost 0.04 percent.

Oil prices rose as OPEC reported that the global oil glut has been virtually eliminated, while U.S. crude’s discount to global benchmark Brent widened to its deepest in nearly five months.

U.S. crude CLcv1 settled up 0.37 percent to $70.96 per barrel and Brent LCOcv1 settled up 1.44 percent at $78.23.

The report from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries “was bullish. That absolute plunge in Venezuelan production ... just highlights how tenuous the market is in terms of the supply and demand balance,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC.

The dollar index .DXY rose 0.09 percent, with the euro EUR= down 0.05 percent to $1.1936.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes US10YT=RR last fell 7/32 in price to yield 2.9969 percent, from 2.971 percent late on Friday.

Additional reporting by Stephen Culp and Ayenat Mersie in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and James Dalgleish