Investors in Europe regained their footing after last week's stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs report prompted an end-of-week sell-off. After European markets closed on Friday, U.S. stocks posted solid gains.
Given the prevailing focus on the U.S., the key day this week will likely be Wednesday, when the minutes to the last policy meeting of the Fed are published. The Fed's chairman, Ben Bernanke, is also due to deliver a speech.
"It is possible that the combination of these events will encourage speculation that tapering is almost upon us," said Jane Foley, an analyst at Rabobank International. "Alternatively there is the possibility that Bernanke will push back against speculation that the Fed is ready to take a less accommodative position."
Without a clearer gauge, markets around the world have been volatile for weeks. For the past few years, the Fed's stimulus, echoed by other central banks, has been one of the props shoring up a number of financial assets, in particular stocks.
Volatility was a key feature Monday as European markets started the week positively following Wall Street's late turn Friday and amid hopes that Greece will get its next batch of bailout funds. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 1 per cent at 6,437 while Germany's DAX rose 2.2 per cent to 7,676. The CAC-40 in France was 1.8 per cent higher at 3,821.
The mood in Europe was perked up by the news that Greece's international creditors appear to have reached a deal with the cash-strapped country over further economic reforms required for the release of the bailout funds. A meeting later in the day of the finance ministers of the 17 European Union countries that use the euro is expected to confirm the release.
Wall Street was poised for a solid opening with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.5 per cent. Another key focus in markets will be the start of the U.S. second-quarter corporate reporting season after Monday's close. As usual, aluminum company Alcoa Inc.'s will be the first to report.
"The U.S. is going to remain in the spotlight in the coming weeks, as investors try to make sense of companies' second quarter earnings at a time when the Fed is looking to withdraw its support and begin tapering its asset purchases," said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari.
Earlier, most Asian markets fell amid renewed worries over the economic recovery in China.
"Credit data this week will give investors clues to how much the cash squeeze is affecting the world's second biggest economy," said Lee Mumford, a trader at Spreadex.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed down 1.3 per cent at 20,582.19. Mainland Chinese shares sank, with the Shanghai Composite Index down 2.4 per cent to 1958.27. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index lost 3.6 per cent to 889.53. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.4 per cent to 14,109.34. South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.9 per cent to 1,816.85.
In other financial markets, the mood was fairly benign. Among major currencies, the euro was up 0.2 per cent at $1.2856 while the dollar was flat at 101.19 yen.
In commodity markets, the price of oil was down 16 cents at $103.06 a barrel.