* U.S. stocks up as oil rebounds
* Italy, Spain fall on Greece concerns, austerity issues
* Euro zone data shows slight growth in January (Updates with U.S. market activity)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Global equity markets were modestly higher on Monday, though disappointing data limited gains in U.S. stocks, as a rebound in oil prices supported markets as investors remain attuned to signals the commodity is sending about global demand.
U.S. economic data showed consumer spending fell and construction spending rose less than expected in December, while an industry report pointed to slowing in the manufacturing sector in January.
Crude oil prices rose as investors shrugged off a U.S. refinery strike and focused on a falling U.S. rig count that signaled lower production in the future. U.S. crude gained 2 percent to $49.36 while Brent gained 2.7 percent to $54.45.
The S&P 500 is still down nearly 5 percent from its record high set on Dec. 29, pulled lower by a lackluster earnings season and data showing an economy growing at a slower pace than investors had been anticipating.
“Fundamentals still look strong, but earnings are really coming in under expectations, which is creating a general concern that is leading to heavy volatility,” said James Liu, global market strategist for JPMorgan Funds in Chicago. “We got used to good earnings growth and data and now we’re facing the first real test of that sentiment not always being true.”
Stocks in Europe were mixed, with notable drops in Spanish and Italian shares as Greece seeks to end its existing debt deal and data pointed to weak January growth in euro zone factory activity. Spain and Italy have seen a rise in popularity of anti-austerity parties.
On Saturday, tens of thousands marched in Madrid in the biggest show of support yet for Spanish anti-austerity party Podemos, whose policies have drawn comparisons with the Syriza party that now governs Greece.
Greece’s leftist government began its drive to persuade a skeptical Europe to accept a new debt agreement. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis met his British counterpart George Osborne on Monday.
MSCI’s all-country world stock index, a measure of stock performance in 45 countries, rose 0.4 percent. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.2 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 36.25 points, or 0.21 percent, at 17,201.20. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 7.93 points, or 0.40 percent, at 2,002.92. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 4.88 points, or 0.11 percent, at 4,640.12.
The dollar weakened in the wake of the data, with the U.S. dollar index last off 0.3 percent. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 1/32, the yield at 1.676 percent.
Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Dan Grebler