Gains for insurers as Hurricane Irma hits Florida, but is downgraded
Stocks across Europe rallied on Monday, led by gains for insurance stocks as Hurricane Irma took a narrower path over Florida than expected, promising less damage.
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Investors were also seen as taking heart from an easing of worries over North Korea's potential nuclear arsenal, after Pyongyang failed to conduct a missile test to mark its Foundation Day on Saturday, as some had feared.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index jumped 1% to close at 379.43, posting its biggest gain since Aug. 14.
"Equity markets are staging a relief rally after a less painful weekend than feared" said Rebecca O'Keefe, head of investment at Interactive Investor.
"Despite the fact that North Korea is now warning of 'pain and suffering' if the U.N. council votes for new sanctions today, investors have largely decided that the risks are more rhetoric than reality," she said in an note.
Insurers rise: The Stoxx Europe 600 Insurance Index charged up 2.2%, logging its best gain since April, as shares of reinsurer Munich Reinsurance Co. (MUV2.XE) climbed 4.1% and Swiss Re AG (SSREY) tacked on 4.3%.
Insurance stocks also topped the advancers on the Stoxx 600, with Hannover Rueck SE (HNR1.XE) up 5.4% and Beazley PLC (BEZ.LN) 4.3% higher, claiming the two top spots.
"Although [Hurricane] Irma is still causing some problems, the impact is far less than the worst-case scenario predictions, with insurance companies topping the performance tables today as the direct financial cost of Irma is likely to be far less than feared," said O'Keefe.
Hurricane Irma on Sunday tore through the southwest and west coast of Florida (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/worst-case-scenario-as-hurricane-irma-makes-landfall-in-florida-2017-09-10), but didn't make a direct hit on Miami and other cities on the east coast of the state. The hurricane, which is now starting to approach Georgia and Alabama, has since weakened to a Category 1 storm. Still, millions of Floridians are without electric power, and there has been property damage caused by heavy winds and flooding.
The euro bought $1.1975, down from $1.2037 late Friday in New York. The U.S. dollar moved up against most major currencies on the prospect that Irma's impact on the U.S. economy may not be as severe as projected.
National indexes: France's CAC 40 index popped up 1.2% to 5,176.71, and Germany's DAX 30 index tacked on 1.4% to 12,475.24.
In London, the FTSE 100 bulked up 0.5% to close at 7,413.59, while Spain's IBEX rose 1.9% to 10,322.60.
Brexit bill in focus: Investors will keep watch on developments from the U.K. parliament on Monday, where lawmakers are debating elements of the EU (withdrawal) Bill. They are expected to vote on the bill, which overturns the legislation that took the U.K. into the European Union, either late Monday or early Tuesday.
Included in the Brexit bill are measures to convert existing EU laws into U.K. law, which some say hand the government "Henry VIII" powers to amend laws without parliamentary scrutiny.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 11, 2017 12:55 ET (16:55 GMT)