* European shares open higher as tech stocks rally
* US stock futures flat on gridlock over stimulus
* Asia ex-Japan dips, Nikkei aided by yen pullback
* Caixin China PMI beats forecasts at 52.8
* Gold reaches new peak, eyeing $2,000 level
LONDON, Aug 3 (Reuters) - World stocks began August
cautiously as U.S. lawmakers struggled to agree on the next
round of coronavirus aid, though a squeeze on crowded short
positions left the dollar clinging to a tentative bounce.
In Europe, stocks were up 0.7% as technology stocks
rallied on positive read-across from peers on the other side of
the Atlantic, but gains were limited by a selloff in big banks'
Index heavyweight HSBC fell 5% after it warned that
its bad debt charges could surge to as much as $13 billion, and
France's Societe Generale reported a 1.26 billion euro
($1.48 billion) second-quarter loss.
U.S. stock futures were pointing to a muted open with
jittery investors sitting on the sidelines amid the lack of a
progress on the stimulus package and White House Chief of Staff
Mark Meadows not optimistic about a deal.
"Three months to go until the U.S. Presidential election!
Surely Congress will want to get something over the line
regarding new stimulus in the U.S. driven more by politics than
necessarily economics," said Chris Bailey, European strategist
at Raymond James.
On Friday, Fitch Ratings cut the outlook on the United
States' triple-A credit rating to negative from stable and said
the direction of fiscal policy depends in part on the November
election and the resulting makeup of Congress, cautioning that
policy gridlock could continue.
Those concerns have hardly hit the U.S. technology sector,
evident in Friday's record highs, with Apple overtaking
Saudi Aramco to become the world's most valuable
Spanish stocks, meanwhile, declined on Monday as the country
saw the biggest jump in coronavirus cases since a national
lockdown was lifted in June, while data showed international
tourist arrivals to the country fell 98% year on year in June.
"Second wave virus concerns are building in Australia,
Europe etc. but no huge risk-aversion move," said Bailey.
The euro and the pound were down only slightly with the
dollar at $1.1755 per euro and $1.3065 per pound. Both
the currencies recorded their best monthly gain in nearly a
decade in July.
Dollar bears also took some profits on crowded short
positions, but any further gains were capped by the slowing U.S.
economic recovery from COVID-19 and real rates breaking below
-1% for the first time.
The real rate hit a record low amid a marked flattening of
the yield curve as investors wager on more accommodation from
the Federal Reserve.
"Amid improvements in business sentiment, signals are
emerging that the initial boost from pent-up demand is fading
and consumer confidence is slipping lower," economists at
Barclays wrote in a note.
"Together with concerns about labour market and virus
developments, this clouds the outlook and could be exacerbated
if U.S. fiscal support is not renewed in time."
Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields were higher
at 0.54% after touching the lowest level since March last week.
German government bond yields rose slightly to -0.527%.
Factory activity data from China showed the fastest pace of
expansion in nearly a decade. That helped China's blue chips
rally 1.6%, offsetting worries about U.S.-China
Japan's Nikkei meanwhile added 2.2%, courtesy of a
pullback in the yen. The dollar steadied on the yen at 105.95
after hitting a 4-1/2-month low last week at 104.17.
The recent decline in the dollar combined with super-low
real bond yields has been a boon for gold, which hit $1,984 an
ounce early on Monday and seemed on track to take out
Oil prices eased on concerns about oversupply as OPEC and
its allies are due to pull back from production cuts in August
while an increase in COVID-19 cases raised fears of slower
pick-up in fuel demand.
Brent crude futures dipped 46 cents to $43.06 a
barrel, while U.S. crude eased 51 cents to $39.76.
(Reporting by Thyagaraju Adinarayan, additional reporting by
Sujata Rao in London, Wayne Cole in Sydney and Julie Zhu in Hong
Kong; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Susan Fenton)