World shares higher on year-end buying, European energy boost
Equity markets worldwide edged higher on Monday after European energy shares rose, even as oil prices remained volatile.

U.S. stocks inched up, but some profit-taking after the S&P 500's best weekly performance in nearly two months capped gains. A rebound in European energy shares and greater political stability in Greece boosted European bourses.

"You've got the normal seasonality of the market supported by strong fundamentals," said Philip Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated in New York.

Asian markets set the tone with gains of 1 percent following Wall Street's strong finish to last week.

Stocks in Moscow also gained, with the dollar-traded up almost 7 percent following news that oil firm Rosneft had paid around $7 billion due on a loan from a syndicate of international banks, ending concerns that it would not.

The greenback slipped slightly after data showed U.S. existing home sales slumped 6.1 percent in November to the lowest level since May, which also hurt housing shares.

Trading volume is expected to be light this week due to the Christmas holiday, which could increase volatility. U.S. equity markets will open for an abbreviated session on Wednesday and close on Thursday for Christmas.

Most European energy shares rebounded, even as Brent crude oil prices remained volatile after their recent slump. Sentiment was also lifted by expectations that Greece could avoid destabilizing snap elections after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras made a surprise offer to bring pro-European independents into the government if they backed his choice for a new president.

Belgium's Luc Coene became the latest European Central Bank policymaker to back outright government bond buying to stimulate the euro zone, a move that also helped boost European shares.

MSCI's all-country world index was last up 0.3 percent at 419.36. Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.4 percent at 1,366.42.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 95.11 points, or 0.53 percent, at 17,899.91. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 1.63 points, or 0.08 percent, at 2,072.28. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 6.45 points, or 0.14 percent, at 4,771.83.

A plunge in shares of Gilead Sciences dragged on the S&P and Nasdaq 100 indexes.

Yields on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes were little changed from Friday's levels, at 2.18 percent, ahead of the government's sale of new two-year notes, the first offer of $104 billion in new supply this week.

Brent crude was last down $1.30, or 2.2 percent, at $60.08 a barrel. U.S. crude was last down $1.63, or 2.8 percent, at $55.50 per barrel.

Spot gold prices fell $12.44 to $1,182.91 an ounce.

(Additional reporting by Marc Jones and Sudip Kar-Gupta in London and Chuck Mikolajczak in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)