Stocks gain on improved sentiment, crude at $120



* Countdown to raft of central bank meetings

* Euro gains ahead of Thursday's ECB meeting

* U.S. CPI on Friday to test thinking on Fed hikes

* Oil firms after Saudi Arabia raises prices

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK, June 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Monday, following gains in Asia and Europe on signs of an easing of restrictions by China, and as investors took expected interest rate hikes in coming days in their stride despite crude oil hitting $120 a barrel.

The dollar gained against the euro ahead of a European Central Bank policy meeting on Thursday but was weaker against the commodity currencies - the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand dollars - as risk appetite increased.

Sterling rose ahead of a confidence vote in Parliament on Prime Minister Boris Johnson after fellow Conservative lawmakers questioned his leadership in the wake of the so-called partygate scandal.

The vote is expected to end by 8 p.m. local time (1900 GMT) and the result announced later.

A Wall Street Journal report that Chinese regulators are concluding probes into ride-hailing giant Didi Global Inc DIDI.N , as well as the easing of domestic COVID curbs, have bolstered sentiment, said Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex.

"You've got the world's second-largest economy continuing to open up," he said. "It looks like Didi may be available again at the mobile app stores and Beijing opened up public transportation."

Didi shares surged 37.3% on the Journal report, and the news helped Hong Kong's Hang Seng tech index close 4.6% higher. .

Sentiment also was aided by comments from U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo that President Joe Biden has asked his team to look at the option of lifting some tariffs on Chinese imports.

People no longer speculate that the Federal Reserve might hike interest rates by 75 basis points and have backtracked a bit from a 50 basis-point hike in September, which also has boosted sentiment, Chandler said.

The major U.S. stock indexes rose, as did the big bourses for Britain .FTSE , Germany .GDAXI , France .FCHI , Italy .FTMIB and Spain .IBEX , all closing up 1% or higher.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX rose 0.92% and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.31%.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 0.08% after briefly dipping lower. The S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.20% and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 0.25%. Growth shares .IGX rose 0.3%, or more than double the 0.1% advance in value stocks.

U.S. Treasury yields rose as the market prepared for the sale of $96 billion in debt this week and ahead of data on Friday expected to show U.S. inflation is still running hot.

The consumer price index (CPI) is expected to have gained 0.7% last month, compared with 0.3% in April, with annual inflation unchanged at 8.3%, according to the median estimate of economists polled by Reuters.

The three U.S. debt auctions this week are likely to push yields higher as banks and investors prepare to absorb the issuance.

The yield on 10-year Treasury notes US10YT=RR was up 7.9 basis points at 3.034%, the first time the benchmark's yields have topped 3% in almost three weeks.

At the ECB meeting on Thursday, President Christine Lagarde is considered certain to confirm an end to bond-buying this month and a first rate increase in July, though the jury is out on whether that will be 25 or 50 bps, as some investment banks ramped up their expectations.

Money markets are priced for 130 bps of rate increases by year-end, with a 50 bps move at a single meeting fully priced in by October.

A high number would only add to expectations of aggressive tightening by the Fed next week, with markets already priced for half-point increases in June and July and almost 200 basis points (bps) by the end of the year. FEDWATCH

The dollar index =USD rose 0.313%, with the euro EUR= down 0.29% at $1.0688. The yen weakened 0.82% to 131.96 per dollar.

Oil prices were largely unchanged in choppy trade, buoyed by Saudi Arabia raising its July crude prices but amid doubts a higher output target for OPEC+ producers would ease tight supply.

U.S. crude futures CLc1 settled down 37 cents at $118.50 a barrel and Brent LCOc1 fell 21 cents to settle at $119.51.

Gold prices slid, pressured by an uptick in the dollar and Treasury yields.

U.S. gold futures GCv1 settled down 0.4% at $1,843.70 an ounce.



Asia stock markets Link
Asia-Pacific valuations Link
US CPI Link



Reporting by Herbert Lash in New York
Additional reporting by Huw Jones in London
Editing by John Stonestreet and Matthew Lewis



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