By Dow Jones Business News
Global stock markets were mostly steady Monday after closing out July with solid gains, as the prospect of easy monetary policy helped investors overlook recent weakness in economic data.
Futures pointed to a 0.1% opening gain for the S&P 500, following modest advances in Japan, Hong Kong and Australia.
"We're still talking about central bank stimulus, in the wake of last week," said Ian Williams, strategist at brokerage Peel Hunt.
"Unless inflation numbers come in much stronger, there is no real impetus for the Fed to be moving more than the gradual pace they were talking about," said Luke Tilley, chief economist at Wilmington Trust.
Still, Friday's weak growth report doesn't change the story of a consumer-driven recovery, which should support U.S. stock markets this year, he said.
Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley over the weekend argued for continued caution but said "it is premature to rule out further monetary policy tightening this year."
Meanwhile, many investors are expecting the Bank of England to cut interest rates on Thursday and potentially announce additional quantitative easing or "credit easing" measures to help lift the U.K.'s fragile economy.
Data Monday showed British manufacturing activity dropped to its lowest level since 2013, adding to signs the economy has slowed since the U.K.'s June 23 vote to leave the European Union.
"Companies and households are obviously taking a very cautious view, and uncertainty means investment and purchasing decisions have been deferred," Mr. Williams said.