By Elizabeth Dilts Marshall
NEW YORK, July 20 (Reuters) - Asian shares were set to open higher on Tuesday after U.S. markets gained ground on positive data from trials of three potential COVID-19 vaccines and hopes that the European Union would finalize a recovery fund.
Australian S&P/ASX 200 futures YAPcm1 rose 0.70% in early trade while Japan's Nikkei 225 futures NKc1 were up 0.02%, or 0.47% higher than the Nikkei's close on Monday.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index futures .HSI, HSIc1 rose 0.92%. E-mini futures for the S&P 500 EScv1 slipped 0.08%.
Early data from trials of three potential COVID-19 vaccines released on Monday, including a closely-watched candidate from Oxford University, increased confidence that a vaccine can train the immune system to recognize and fight the novel coronavirus without serious side effects.
European Union leaders appeared to near an agreement on Monday on a 750-billion-euro stimulus plan for regional economies hard-hit by the pandemic.
Also supporting sentiment were hopes for another round of U.S. economic stimulus after congressional Republicans announced plans to seek another $1 trillion in coronavirus economic relief.
"Global equities kicked off the trading week on a positive note as vaccine hopes supported optimism," Felicity Emmett of ANZ Research wrote. "U.S. politicians will begin discussing the next tranche of stimulus this week, and that's going to be a key focal point for markets too."
The day's news helped push the euro to its highest level in more than four months against the U.S. dollar, while the Nasdaq reached a new high - its seventh record in July.
The euro EUR= was up 0.16%, at $1.1444, while the yen JPY= gained 0.27%, to $107.2800.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 0.03%, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.84% and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC jumped 2.51%.
Tech stocks Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O and Microsoft Corp MSFT.O provided the biggest boosts to the Nasdaq and the S&P500.
MSCI's benchmark for global equity markets .MIWD00000PUS rose 0.85%.
However, worries about the pandemic's economic and human toll pushed gold prices to their highest level since September 2011 on Monday. U.S. gold futures GCv1 settled up 0.4% to $1,817.40 per ounce.
More than 14.58 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 605,782 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
Oil prices were little changed on Monday. Brent crude LCOc1 settled up 14 cents, or 0.3%, at $43.28 per barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) CLc1 rose 22 cents, 0.5%, to $40.81.
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(Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts Marshall in New York; Editing by Sam Holmes)
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