LONDON MARKETS: FTSE 100 Closes 2% Higher As Investors Cheer French Election Result

British benchmark is back in the black for 2017

U.K. stocks closed with strong gains Monday, keying off a broad European rally led by French equities, as centrist Emmanuel Macron's first-round win in France's presidential election put an end to worries that two euroskeptics would be in the final runoff.

The FTSE 100 leapt 2.1% to end at 7,264.68, the largest percentage rise since September, according to FactSet data. Just three FTSE components lost ground. The blue-chip index has turned positive for 2017 again, sporting a gain of 1.7% for the year.

Banks on the rise: London-listed bank shares were among the biggest gainers, riding up alongside a surge in bank stocks in France and across Europe.

"Bankers look after their own, so former Rothschild investment banker Macron is a win for the banks," said Jasper Lawler, senior market analyst at London Capital Group, in a note.

Check out:Bank stocks ride high after Macron wins first round (

And see:5 things to know about Emmanuel Macron (

HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBA.LN) pushed up 2.3%, Barclays PLC (BCS) moved higher by 5.4%, and Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS.LN) bulked up 4%.

Also, Standard Chartered PLC (STAN.LN) advanced 4.8%, while Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.LN) picked up 2.9%.

Equities party in Paris: France's CAC 40 ran up 4.1% ( after centrist Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen came in first and second in French voting Sunday (

There had been concerns among investors about the prospect of a final-round showdown between Le Pen and far-left candidate Jean Luc Melenchon. Le Pen wants a referendum on France's membership in the European Union, and Melenchon had said a referendum should be held on renegotiating EU treaties.

Macron is now leading the polls to win the presidency in the final round in May.

"Polls for the second round between Macron and Le Pen have consistently shown a 20%-plus lead for Macron. Indeed, he kicks off the next stage of the campaign as clear favorite to win on 7 May, especially given the relative accuracy of the polls this time around," said Investec economist Philip Shaw in a note.

See:4 things investors need to know about France's presidential runoff (

And read:Watch for shift from Le Pen--analysts on what's next in French election (

Other movers: British Gas parent Centrica PLC (CNA.LN) was among the three decliners on the FTSE 100, down 3.5%, and utility SSE PLC (SSE.LN) shed 1.9%.

"It was a one two-punch of an election-inspired government U-turn on energy bill caps and a move out of traditional havens that sent utility company shares to the bottom of the FTSE 100," London Capital Group's Lawler said.

Gold miner Randgold Resources PLC (RRS.LN) fell 1.4%, but finished off its session low. The move came as gold prices ( dropped more than 1%, as investors embraced riskier assets.

The euro was up more than 1% against the pound, buying 84.87 pence.

See:Euro jumps to 5-month high in French election relief rally (

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 24, 2017 12:08 ET (16:08 GMT)