US tech giants gain ahead of earnings deluge, oil prices up

AFP – US technology companies rallied Monday ahead of earnings from high-tech heavyweights later in the week, while oil prices gained amid lingering unease over Middle Eastern supplies.

On a day when European bourses and the Dow could muster only mild gains, the tech-rich Nasdaq jumped 0.7 percent ahead of expected earnings reports from industry giants like Amazon, Facebook and Google.

Oil prices spiked higher meanwhile, before easing back to conserve modest gains amid ongoing tension in the Gulf, where Iran still held a British-flagged tanker seized late last week.

With the second-quarter earnings season underway, "so far companies are beating low expectations, which may just be enough to avert an earnings recession," commented Neil Wilson at Markets.com.

"By the end of the week we should know a lot more about the state of corporate America," he added.

Besides the tech companies, this week’s slate also include Boeing, Caterpillar, American Airlines and Coca-Cola.

On oil markets, concern focused on the Gulf, as Britain repeated its demand that Iran release the Stena Impero, which the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized on Friday in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

"Traders are clearly a little on edge due to the importance of the passage for global oil supplies," remarked Craig Erlam at the Oanda brokerage.

"Oil prices haven’t risen too much yet but if the situation deteriorates further, we should possibly brace for higher prices," he added.

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency said Monday that "the oil market is currently well supplied", and added that it was "ready to act quickly and decisively in the event of a disruption."

– Asian stocks slide –

Asian equities retreated earlier in the day on dimming hopes for a sharp interest rate cut by the US Federal Reserve, although all the firms on a new tech-focused board in China rallied on its opening day.

Traders took a step back after last week’s gains as the New York Federal Reserve tempered comments from its president, John Williams, who had suggested the central bank could cut borrowing costs by 50 basis points at its policy meeting this month.

Bets that the Fed will only reduce rates by 25 basis points provided support to the dollar against most high-yielding, riskier currencies.

– Key figures around 2130 GMT –

New York – Dow: UP 0.1 percent at 27,171.90 (close)

New York – S&P 500: UP 0.3 percent at 2,985.03 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.7 percent at 8,204.14 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,514.93 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 12,289.40 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 5,567.02 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 3,489.92 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.2 percent at 21,416.79 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.4 percent at 28,371.26 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.3 percent at 2,886.97 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1209 from 1.1221

Dollar/pound: DOWN at $1.2477 from $1.2502

Dollar/yen: UP at 107.86 yen from 107.71 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 79 cents at $63.26 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 59 cents at $56.22 per barrel