EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Gain Ground As German Trade Data Impress

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

European stocks marched higher Tuesday, with German trade data exceeding expectations and as investors appeared back in the mood to take on more risk in the wake of France's presidential election.

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The Stoxx Europe 600 index was up 0.4% at 395.67, with all the but utilities sector gaining ground. The pan-European benchmark shed 0.1% on Monday after rallying into the final round of France's presidential race on Sunday. The index has been riding around its highest since August 2015.

But those losses were brushed aside Tuesday as European and U.S. volatility indexes -- which reflect the level of worry among investors -- dropped after market-friendly Emmanuel Macron won (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/investors-are-breathing-a-sigh-of-relief-over-france-for-now-2017-05-07) the presidential runoff.

The widely watched CBOE Volatility Index on Monday hit its lowest level in 24 years (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/is-this-the-day-wall-streets-fear-gauge-hits-rock-bottom-2017-05-08). The Euro Stoxx 50 Volatility Index on Monday hit its lowest since March. VStoxx futures were down 0.5% at 14.20 on Tuesday, according to FactSet data.

"The risk-on trade is in full swing and traders are considering the recent pullback in the European market as an opportunity," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets, in an note. "It may be not a bad idea to buy some insurance for your portfolio given that the volatility is so cheap."

European indexes have climbed this year, with France's CAC 40 at its highest since 2008 and Germany's benchmark at an all time high. Analysts have pointed to improved earnings growth and eurozone economic data among the reasons for the lift in equities.

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However, "the Macron victory does not mean that we are out of the woods," said Aslam. "There are still massive challenges ahead of him and the issue of soft and hard Brexit is still very much in play."

Read:Why are markets ignoring the black swans? asks Nouriel Roubini (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-are-markets-ignoring-geopolitical-risks-2017-05-08)

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-are-markets-ignoring-geopolitical-risks-2017-05-08)Data: Germany posted its strongest trade figures on record Tuesday, with exports up 0.4% in March to a record EUR118.2 billion. Imports climbed 2.4% to EUR92.9 billion.

Movers: Micro Focus International PLC (MCRO.LN) dropped 6.9%, but was off session lows, after the U.K. software company said it's disappointed with declining revenue (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/micro-focus-disappointed-by-hpes-falling-revenue-2017-05-09) at the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. (HPE) business it's buying.

Glencore PLC (GLEN.LN) (GLEN.LN) shares popped up 2.8% after the commodities producer and trader reversed plans to close an Australian coal mine (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/glencore-seeks-buyer-for-tahmoor-coal-mine-2017-05-09), putting it up for sale instead in a bid to benefit from the recovery in coal prices.

Commerzbank (CBK.XE) gained 2.8% after the German lender's first-quarter earnings topped expectations. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/commerzbank-profit-up-28-as-bad-bank-improves-2017-05-09)

Credit Suisse Group AG shares (CSGN.EB) (CSGN.EB) were up 6% after the Swiss lender's price target was raised at Goldman Sachs to EUR18.21 a piece.

Akzo Nobel NV shares (AKZOY) (AKZOY) were up 1% even as U.S. activist investor Elliott Management Corp. sought aid from a Dutch court to remove the paint maker's chairman (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/elliot-seeks-court-aid-to-oust-akzo-nobels-chair-2017-05-09). Elliott wants Akzo to enter sale talks with PPG Industries Inc. (PPG) . Akzo has rejected three takeover bids from PPG.

Elsewhere in Europe: Germany's DAX 30 index rose 0.3% to 12,737.94, on course to surpass its record closing high of 12,716.89 it reached May 5. France's CAC 40 was higher by 0.5% at 5,407.72.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-pushes-higher-as-miners-advance-2017-05-09)was up 0.4% at 7,329.00 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-pushes-higher-as-miners-advance-2017-05-09), looking a fourth session of gains. Spain's IBEX picked up 0.2% at 11,115.90.

The euro traded at $1.0912, down from $1.0925 late Monday in New York.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 09, 2017 05:56 ET (09:56 GMT)