* Tech leads U.S. stocks higher on trade talks optimism
* Oil prices jump on fresh Middle East tensions
* European stocks edge higher
* ECB easing, Fed rate cut eyed (Updates to market close)
By Stephen Culp
NEW YORK, July 22 (Reuters) – U.S. stocks gained ground on Monday at the onset of a heavy earnings week, while European shares inched higher as investors took heart from potential progress in U.S.-China trade talks and increasing geopolitical tensions sent oil prices climbing.
Tech pushed Wall Street into positive territory as investors girded themselves for a week of second-quarter results from major industrial and technology companies and eyed the U.S. Federal Reserve’s expected interest rate cut at the end of the month.
The South China Morning Post reported U.S. trade negotiators will likely visit China next week for their first face-to-face talk with Chinese officials since U.S. President Donald Trump postponed a new round of tariffs on Chinese imports after a meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Japan on June 29.
“I don’t give much credence to the (trade) news,” said Stephen Massocca, Senior Vice President at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco. “The chatter will continue, but we won’t see anything substantive this year.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 17.7 points, or 0.07%, to 27,171.9, the S&P 500 gained 8.42 points, or 0.28%, to 2,985.03 and the Nasdaq Composite added 57.65 points, or 0.71%, to 8,204.14.
Growing tensions in the Middle East, coupled with worries about Britain leaving the European Union (Brexit) without a deal held world stocks flat.
“Brexit fears can be somewhat alleviated by a friendly European Central Bank, and it appears that’s the way they’re trending,” said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.13% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.05%.
Brent crude prices moved higher on worries that Iran’s seizure of a British tanker last week could lead to supply disruptions.
U.S. crude settled at $56.22 per barrel, up 1.06%, while Brent settled at $63.26, gaining 1.26% on the day.
The dollar and euro were little changed as traders looked to policy decisions from the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank regarding the pace at which they will cut interest rates, beginning with the ECB on Thursday.
“Clearly the ECB will loosen as will the Fed,” added Massocca. “It’s all been very well-telegraphed by the markets.”
“It’s positive, it’s bullish, but as far as what comes out of those meetings I’m not anticipating any surprises.”
The dollar index rose 0.14%, with the euro down 0.12% to $1.1207.
U.S. Treasury yields fell and the yield curve flattened as dovish Fed bank policy supported demand for government debt.
Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 1/32 in price to yield 2.0482%, from 2.05% late on Friday.
The 30-year bond last rose 4/32 in price to yield 2.5734%, from 2.578% late on Friday.
Gold held steady, on the heels of a sharp drop in the previous session on lowered rate cut expectations, but the safe-haven metal still found support in the form of global geopolitical uncertainties.
Spot gold UP 0.08% at $1,425.24 an ounce.
Shipping prices rose on strong vessel demand, with the Baltic Dry Index jumping to a 5-year high. (Reporting by Stephen Culp; additional reporting by by Karin Strohecker in London; additional reporting by Sujata Rao in London and Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo Editing by Susan Thomas)