Belfast Telegraph

Macron's French election success helps European markets climb

The FTSE 100 followed European equities higher, as the success of President Emmanuel Macron's party in the French legislative elections convinced investors of growing political stability on the continent.

London's blue chip index ended the day higher by 0.8% or 60.27 points at 7,523, while its European peers including the French Cac 40 and German Dax rose by 0.9% and 1%, respectively.

David Madden, a market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: "News that Mr Macron's party took the majority of the seats in the French assembly was welcomed by traders, as it represents political stability in one of the biggest counties of the EU.

"France's economy didn't fare too well under Francois Hollande, and investors are optimistic about the new French leader."

Investors were also keeping an eye on the Brexit negotiations, which kicked off on Monday with the UK's Brexit Secretary David Davis meeting the European Commission's chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels.

"David Davis was hopeful going into the Brexit talks today, and seeing as himself and Michel Barnier exchanged gifts at their meeting, it would appear that the talks started off on the right foot," Mr Madden said.

Sterling weakness also buoyed the FTSE 100, as listed multinational firms tend to benefit when earnings in foreign currencies are stronger.

The pound was down 0.3% versus the US dollar at 1.273, but was flat against the euro at 1.141.

In oil markets, Brent crude prices edged higher by 0.2% to 47.38 US dollars per barrel (£37.20), despite continued concerns about oversupply in the global market, raising concerns about how long the upturn will last.

In UK stocks, Sainsbury shares were one of the best performers on the FTSE 100, rising 5.7p to 258p after reports emerged the supermarket has tabled a £130 million bid to acquire convenience store operator Nisa.

Standard Life shares climbed 9.3p to 398.6p, while shares in Aberdeen Asset Management jumped 14.3p to 299.7p, after shareholders overwhelmingly backed an £11 billion tie-up between the two financial services firms at general meetings on Monday.

Ocado shares were the biggest riser on the FTSE 250, soaring 30.6p to 306.4. It comes after Ocado was handed a broker upgrade from Exane on the prospect of the online grocer striking a partnership deal with Amazon, following the retail giant's own swoop for Whole Foods.

Bonmarche shares fell 0.25p to 96.25p after reporting a 39.4% drop in annual pre-tax profits to £5.8 million, as a combination of Brexit pressures and unseasonal weather weighed on the womenswear retailer.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Glencore up 8.2p to 287.95p, Wolseley up 119p to 4,884p, Standard Life up 9.3p to 398.6p, and Sainsbury up 5.7p to 258p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Hammerson, down 8p at 594p, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, down 19p to 1,624p, Paddy Power Betfair, down 95p to 8,525p, and Pearson, down 7.5p to 705.5p.