Europe close: French stocks jump, but investors wary

Alexander Bueso Sharecast | 20 Apr, 2017 18:32 | | |

francia bandera

French stocks outperformed by a mile on Thursday, with just days to go until the French presidential elections - as British shares did ahead of the referendum vote - although a key gauge of investor caution belied their wariness .

Paris's Cac 40 jumped 1.48% to 5.053.79 after a poll signalled that centrist, europhile Emmanuel Macron would likely win the contest.

In parallel, the Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.22% to 378.06 and Germany’s DAX was up by 0.09% to 12,027.32 and 12,019.85.

However, a key gauge of investor caution, the VStoxx gauge for volatility in the EuroStoxx 50 stock benchmark was also higher, gaining 2.885 to 24.90 - holding near its best levels since November.

Recent polling showed that Macron and Le Pen were on 23-34% of the vote, with Mélenchon a point or two behind followed by scandal-hit conservative Francois Fillon, who has also been making gains, behind by three points.

But with about a third of voters undecided until polls open on Sunday, any two of the top four candidates could go through to run-off on 7 May.

The euro extended its gains against the dollar, rising as much as 0.62% to 1.0776 on Thursday morning, the highest level since 29 March when it reached 1.084, as a spokesman for the Greek government said the IMF might agree to help fund its current bail-out programme for a year.

Europe's single currency was up 0.25% versus the greenback to 1.0737 and drifted 0.12% lower against the pound to 0.8373.

On the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank's annual meetings, in Washington, Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said the IMF might help to finance the country's bailout programme with a small amount of monies for a year.

Jasper Lawler, senior market analyst at LCG, was unimpressed with the news swirling around the Mediterranean country, telling clients: "The deal is a thinly veiled can-kicking exercise by Europe to delay the ‘Greece problem’ until after German elections later this year."

Meanwhile, Brent crude rose 0.02% to $52.94 per barrel and West Texas Intermediate slipped 0.2% to $50.74.

In corporate news, the CAC was also by boosted by earnings season as Publicis was up 2.87%, and on track for its best performance since last December, after the advertising agency reported a smaller than expected fall in first quarter revenue.

French drinks company Pernod Ricard rose 1.06% after it posted a 1% increase in third-quarter sales.

Swiss engineer ABB gained 2.02% after it said that income rose on sale of its high-voltage cable business, although first-quarter revenue slipped to $7.85bn from last year.

Unilever added 0.09% after the consumer products after it upped its quarterly dividend 12% as underlying sales grew 2.9% in the first three months of the year, despite sales volumes remaining in the red for the third consecutive quarter.

On the data front, Eurozone construction increased 6.9% month-to-month in February, while year-over-year output jumped to +7.1% from an upwardly revised -5.1% in January.

Eurozone consumer confidence surprised, with the European Commission's gauge improving by 1.4 points to -3.6 (consensus: -4.6).

More news

17:50 Europe close: Stocks slip ahead of US Fed Beige Book

Stocks on the Continent finished slightly lower as investors bid their time ahead of the release of the US central bank's Beige Book on Wednesday, against the backdrop of fresh intra-day records on Wall Street's main benchmarks with the Dow Industrials having climbed above the 23,000 point mark for the first time ever.

17:49 Buy Spain as political risk is 'overstated' - Credit Suisse

Spanish equities look unusually cheap, said Credit Suisse on Tuesday, as political risk is "overstated" and the country is on track for at least 3% growth, with employment, housing and construction all on a growth tear.

17:37 London close: Stocks move lower even as Sterling slips

London stocks closed lower on Tuesday even as the pound fell back against the dollar, albeit following a brief pop higher after data showed inflation surged to a five-year high last month, amid somewhat dovish remarks from Bank of England policymakers.

17:10 Director dealings: Beazley executive director sells after profit warning

Adrian Cox, executive director of risk insurance and reinsurance group Beazley, sold 180,009 shares in the company on Tuesday at the price of 500p per share.

17:36 Credit Suisse cuts Tate and Lyle's target price, reiterates 'neutral' rating

Ahead of Tate & Lyle's interim results on 2 November, Credit Suisse updated its forecasts and cut its target price to 710p while reiterating its 'neutral' rating.

16:53 US open: Dow Industrials clambers atop 23,000 mark for first time

The Dow Industrials climbed past the 23,000 points mark for the first time ever, as the third-quarter earnings season got into full swing, and then slipped lower.

16:39 Higher inflation means benefits pain for households, says IFS

State benefits for roughly 10m UK families will be reduced by £450 a year in real terms after inflation reached its highest level in five years on Tuesday, the Institute for Fiscal Studies calculated.

15:47 FTSE 250 movers: Virgin Money gains on update, Workspace boosted by JPM note

London's FTSE 250 was down 0.4% to 20,140.65 in afternoon trade on Tuesday.

15:46 Johnson and Johnson raises full year targets after strong third quarter

Healthcare giant Johnson and Johnson posted higher than expected profits for the three months to 30 September thanks to increased demand for its new cancer drugs and the additional revenue afforded to the group from its June acquisition of Swiss biotech company Actelion.

15:41 AIM newcomer Cora Gold enters drilling agreement with Target

West Africa-focussed gold exploration company Cora Gold announced on Tuesday that its wholly-owned subsidiary Cora Gold Mali has entered into a contract with Target Drilling, to supply aircore, reverse circulation and diamond core drilling, focusing primarily on its flagship Sanankoro Gold Discovery in South Mali.