European and US PMI data surprised to the upside Monday with the Chicago Fed National Activity Index for February showing the strongest growth since 1999 before slowing somewhat in March.

"The start of this trading week saw the best macro day against expectations since mid-February," notes Saxo Bank head of equity strategy Peter Garnry, with European bourses opening in the green.

In China, Garnry reports that stocks are soaring on rumours that Beijing may be willing to ease its policy tightening mandate in order to stave off a larger-than-anticipated economic slowdown; the CSI 300 index closed up 2.6% on the speculation.

On the earnings front, Google parent Alphabet reported a 24% rise in topline growth (excluding traffic acquisition costs) with revenues coming in at $24.9 billion versus $24.3bn expected while earnings per share came in at $13.33 versus $9.30 expected.

"Alphabet shares quickly rallied by 5% but closed the after-market session flat," Garnry reports, adding that in Europe Volvo beat expectations in open profit terms while Santander exceeded forecasts in net income.

Today sees Coca-Cola, 3M, Verizon, and Amgen posting earnings.

In commodities, Iran remains the key geopolitical focus for oil traders ahead of US president Donald Trump's decision on sanctions next month and in the wake of Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen launching a missile attack against Saudi Arabia.

Saxo Bank head of commodity strategy Ole Hansen reports that Brent crude surged north of $75/barrel to its highest level since November 2014 on the news.

Meanwhile, Hansen says that gold prices are at risk of slumping lower with the April low of $1,320/oz and a further extension to $1,307/oz in view. Aluminium prices, meanwhile, have slumped lower as the US Treasury extended its deadline for sanctions against Rusal, Russia's largest aluminium producer.


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