April 30, 2018 / 1:03 PM / 4 months ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-World stocks set for positive April as big ticket M&As return

* World stock index set for first monthly rise since Jan

* Easing tensions between North and South Korea buoy sentiment

* T-Mobile-Sprint, Sainsbury's-ASDA deals keep stocks in spotlight

* Italian bond yields spike on early election talk

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2018 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh (Adds Italian elections, U.S. stock futures)

By Abhinav Ramnarayan

LONDON, April 30 (Reuters) - World stocks are set to notch up a positive month for the first time since January, helped by positive earnings from U.S. technology firms and a clutch of headline-grabbing M&A deals.

Friday's seemingly successful summit between the leaders of North and South Korean was the icing on the cake, pushing Asian bourses higher on Monday.

MSCI's all-country index of global equities is up 1.3 percent for April ahead of another torrent of first quarter earnings. Apple is set to be the standout report on Tuesday.

Strong earnings from Facebook and Amazon gave global technology stocks a shot in the arm last week.

Reports of big M&A deals, including T-Mobile's proposed merger with Sprint in the United States and a tie-up between British supermarket chains Sainsbury's and ASDA, kept global stock markets firmly in the spotlight.

"Large M&A news shows that confidence is there for making big deals. And while I would suggest not all of the recent deals are positive, the ASDA-Sainsbury's one looks particularly good and the stock price reactions seems to bear that out," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Sainsbury's shares shot up 20 percent at the open after the retailer agreed a 13.3 billion pound merger with Walmart's ASDA. The news shook up retail stocks across Europe.

Overall, the pan-continental STOXX index rose 0.1 percent while Germany's DAX gained a similar amount.

Futures pricing pointed towards another higher open on Wall Street. <1YMc1

Asian shares had earlier extended gains as tensions in the Korean Peninsula eased and first-quarter earnings shone, although some investors were cautious about the outlook against the backdrop of a simmering U.S.-China trade dispute.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 1 percent, adding to a similar rise on Friday. The index is now poised for a modest rise this month after two consecutive losses.

South Korea's KOSPI index jumped 0.8 percent and is set to end April more than 2.5 percent higher following record profits from tech giant Samsung Electronics and after a successful inter-Korean summit.

On Friday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North's leader Kim Jong Un agreed to end hostilities and work toward "complete denuclearisation" of the Korean peninsula.

"The direction of travel is more positive that it was at the end of last year and geopolitics is now not the concern it was in the beginning of April," said Hewson of CMC Markets.

"But the potential for trade wars would be the main issue for me going forward, that's the clear and present danger, and what effect it may have on oil prices."

Oil eased from recent highs with Brent crude futures off 62 cents at $74.02 a barrel, while U.S. crude lost 66 cents to $67.44.

The dollar meanwhile held steady just below its strongest level since mid-January against a basket of currencies as traders awaited U.S. consumer spending numbers to see whether the greenback can continue its recent run of gains.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is also due to meet this week, and while no rate hike is expected, investors will look for clues on the future pace of hikes.

"There might be a tweak to the inflation language acknowledging the move towards 2 percent on year-on-year inflation rather than 'have continued to run below 2 percent'", Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid said in a note.

U.S. payrolls numbers are also due Friday.

In Europe, the prospect of fresh Italian elections sent Southern European bond prices tumbling while Italian stocks fell on a day of gains for most European share indexes.

The leader of Italy's 5-Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, said on Monday the only solution was to hold fresh elections, and called on the League's Salvini to back him in calling for a fresh vote in June.

The yield on Italy's 10-year government bond spiked 6 basis points to 1.80 percent and the gap over benchmark Germany was at its widest in nearly two weeks. Bond yields move inversely to their prices.

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets open a news window on Reuters Eikon by pressing F9 and type in 'Live Markets' in the search bar (Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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