Markets Rise After French Elections -- 3rd Update

By Mike Bird and Ese ErherieneFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

European stocks gained ground ahead of the U.S. market open Monday, following French legislative elections which gave President Emmanuel Macron's centrist party an outright majority in the country's parliament.

That gives Mr. Macron a stronger mandate to implement his policies in the eurozone's second largest economy while offering a further sign of the receding tide of populist European politics that had so concerned investors, analysts say.

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The Stoxx Europe 600 index was up 0.6% at midday in London. U.S. equity futures followed, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.3%, and S&P 500 futures up 0.3%.

Among other events this week, investors will be focused on the start of formal Brexit negotiations and a decision on whether to include China's domestically traded A-shares in its benchmark emerging-market index, which is widely followed.

Financial markets were unshaken on news a vehicle had rammed into a crowd outside a mosque in north London early Monday, killing one person and injuring at least 10 others, in what British authorities said was a potential terror attack. The pound sterling was largely flat against the U.S. dollar.

On Sunday, France's legislative elections confirmed an outright majority for La République en Marche, the party founded last year by President Macron, and its centrist ally.

French stocks led gains, with the country's CAC 40 index up by 0.8%.

"There is a new political wind blowing through Europe," said Vincent Juvyns, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. "Macron can now more or less freely implement his program, he won't have to compromise as much as he did when he was economy minister."

There was little reaction to the election in government bond markets. The spread between France and Germany's 10-year government bond yields tightened slightly, to around 0.36 percentage point.

The spread had blown out during the country's presidential campaign, becoming a key measure of political risk for investors and rising to as wide as 0.78 percentage point.

However, some analysts voiced caution.

"Enjoy the glorious sunshine this morning, Europe, but remember that needed reforms are painful," said Michael Every, strategist at Rabobank. "Ask yourselves if the current eurozone cyclical economic upswing will provide a nice tailwind or a complacent headwind to finally grasping that nettle."

In Asia, Nikkei Stock Average closed up 0.6%, with a softer yen aiding a move back above 20000 points. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gained 1%, and the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.7%.

In Japan, economists had expected a modest trade surplus for May. Instead, the country reported its first deficit since January. A Finance Ministry official noted it wasn't uncommon for Japan to post a deficit in May because many manufacturers shut down factories during the "Golden Week" holidays, which limits exports.

Still, local stocks shrugged off the report as the exports data in Japan "continue to reinforce the growth story for Japan's economy," said Ms. Pan.

Japan's exports jumped 15% for May from a year earlier, the biggest rise since January 2015, marking the sixth consecutive month of increases, the government said Monday. However, the figure came in lower than an 18% increase expected by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

In currencies, the WSJ Dollar Index was flat at 88.41 The euro was up 0.1% against the greenback at $1.12, while the yen dropped 0.1%.

Late Friday, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed investors taking long positions on the euro once again. Speculators held 79,053 more long than short contracts in the week to June 16, the largest long position since 2011.

In the commodities market, oil prices jumped in late morning trading in Europe, after declining during Asian trading hours. At midday in Europe July Nymex was up 0.4% at $44.89 a barrel, while August Brent rose 0.3% to $47.52.

Data out Friday afternoon in the U.S. showed another week of rising active U.S. oil-drilling rigs, but some traders say at this level, prices may be close to a floor.

"Questions on the U.S. shale's ability to keep profitable are being asked," after oil earlier hit its lowest point since November, said Stuart Ive, a client manager at OM Financial.

--Jenny W. Hsu, Kosaku Narioka, Yoko Kubota and

Shen Hong

contributed to this article.

Write to Mike Bird at and Ese Erheriene at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 19, 2017 07:47 ET (11:47 GMT)