EUROPE MARKETS: French Stocks Close At 9-year High As Election Rally Continues

By Carla Mozee and Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Christian Dior unit to be purchased by LVMH

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European stocks nudged higher Tuesday, with French stocks closing at a nine-year high as relief over a potentially market-friendly outcome in France's presidential election continued to boost sentiment.

The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.2% to 386.91, closing at the highest level since August 2015.

The gain comes after the benchmark on Monday jumped 2.1%, driven higher on relief among investors that centrist Emmanuel Macron won the first round of voting in the France's presidential race. Polling shows Macron is heavily favored to win his runoff election against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen on May 7.

Read:French election relief could pave way for ECB tapering, but not yet (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/french-election-relief-could-pave-way-for-ecb-tapering-but-not-yet-2017-04-25)

Le Pen late Monday said she's temporarily stepping down as the leader of the National Front party (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/marine-le-pen-steps-down-as-leader-of-national-front-for-now-2017-04-25), a move seen as a way to broaden her support heading into the May 7 election.

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Check out:4 things investors need to know about France's presidential runoff (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/4-things-investors-need-to-know-about-frances-presidential-runoff-2017-04-23)

In Paris, the CAC 40 index on Tuesday ended up 0.2% at 5,277.88, logging its highest close since January 2008.

The index powered up 4.1% on Monday to end at 5,268.85, the biggest one-day percentage gain since August 2012.

Read:The market is going bonkers over France's election result--here's how in 5 wild charts (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-market-is-going-bonkers-over-frances-election-result-heres-how-in-5-wild-charts-2017-04-24)

Barclays on Tuesday reiterated its overweight rating on European equities.

"We expect fund flows to be the dominant driver of European stock/sector performance hereon. A reduction in political risk, coupled with an end to the seven-year stagnation in earnings, should lead to an acceleration in foreign investor buying of European equities," Barclays strategist Dennis Jose wrote in a research note.

Sentiment in Europe on Tuesday also got a boost from the U.S (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stocks-poised-to-build-on-rally-with-flood-of-earnings-ahead-2017-04-25)., where stocks rallied on upbeat earnings and hopes for a corporate tax cut. The Nasdaq Composite Index traded above 6,000 for the first time ever.

Corporate movers: Christian Dior SE shares (CDI.FR) surged 11% after a deal was struck allowing LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE (LVMUY) to buy Christian Dior's fashion subsidiary, Christian Dior Couture, for EUR6 billion ($6.6 billion). Read: Arnaults to take full control of Christian Dior (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/arnaults-to-take-full-control-of-christian-dior-2017-04-25)

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/arnaults-to-take-full-control-of-christian-dior-2017-04-25)LVMH shares climbed 3.9%.

Ericsson AB (ERIC) fell 2.6% after the wireless-communications gear maker posted a hefty quarterly net loss of 10.9 billion kronor ($1.24 billion) after booking provisions, write-downs and restructuring costs. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ericsson-logs-hefty-loss-on-write-downs-2017-04-25)

Whitbread PLC shares (WTB.LN) sank 7.1% after the parent company of Costa Coffee and the Premier Inn hotel chains said it foresees a "tougher consumer environment than last year," (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/whitbread-lifts-dividend-as-full-year-profit-rises-2017-04-25) even as its businesses have had a good start for the year.

Indexes: Germany's DAX 30 index rose 0.1% to 12,467.04, closing at a record high.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index gained 0.2% to 7,275.64 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-edges-higher-after-rally-but-mining-stocks-hit-by-downgrades-2017-04-25).

The euro bought $1.0936 compared with $1.0868 late Monday.

Data: More eurozone banks are set to tighten standards on loans to companies (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/eurozone-banks-set-to-tighten-credit-terms-ecb-2017-04-25)in the current quarter than ease them, though most are likely to keep them unchanged, according to a quarterly survey from the European Central Bank.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 25, 2017 12:16 ET (16:16 GMT)