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Europe closes 3.7% higher as Brexit fears ease; FTSE sees best day since August 2015

European stocks surged by Monday's close, as declining fears of a Brexit vote buoyed global market sentiment, sterling and oil prices.

The pan-European STOXX 600 closed up 3.65 percent provisionally, with all sectors posting sharp gains between 2 and 5.5 percent each.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 jumped 3 percent at the close. Meanwhile, France's CAC and Germany's DAX popped 3.5 and 3.4 percent respectively, posting their best days for several months. In peripheral bourses, the Athens Stock Exchange jumped 5.4 percent, powered by the rally in banks, while Spain's IBEX jumped 3.4 percent.

Brexit concerns ease

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
Volume
FTSE
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DAX
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CAC
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IBEX 35
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Global markets have been reacting positively to several opinion polls over the weekend that showed that the remain camp was regaining momentum ahead of the referendum on European Union membership on Thursday.

Public opinion appears to have turned since the murder of pro-EU Labour MP Jo Cox last Thursday which led to the suspension of campaigning by both sides. However, pollsters claim that the death has had little impact on sentiment and the remain camp was always likely to gain support in the last few days running up to the vote. Campaigning has now resumed.

The British pound has climbed as the Brexit concerns have eased, reaching $1.4679 at the end of Europe's trading session, compared to levels of around $1.40 on Thursday. Oil prices also extended gains, due in part to the weaker dollar and Brexit concerns easing. Around the close, Brent hovered at $50.44, while U.S. crude was trading above 2.5 percent, around $49.30.

Despite Monday's rally, analysts said any further move in the Brexit polls could cause further moves either way in markets.

"The market will surely gyrate some more in the next few days as any shift in that position triggers an exaggerated reaction, not just for sterling but for wider risk sentiment," Kit Juckes, global head of FX strategy at Societe Generale, said in a note.

Overseas, U.S. stocks marched sharply higher, as Brexit concerns eased and a rise in oil prices boosted sentiment. Asia markets also closed higher on Monday on the back of Brexit fears ebbing.

In other Asia news, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan announced at the weekend that he would not be seek a second term when his three-year reign ended in September, and would return to academia instead.

Banks on a tear

The banking sector closed up 4.5 percent, posting its best day since April 13, 2016.

London-listed banks, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Standard Chartered posted gains between 4.8 and 7.6 percent, on hopes that the U.K. may vote to stay in the EU. Greek banks also posted sharp gains.

Meanwhile, shares of Unicredit jumped 3.4 percent after Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano reported that former Italian industry minister Corrado Passera could become the new chief executive.

Volkswagen rallies

In individual stock news, Volkswagen shares jumped 5 percent after JPMorgan raised its price target and rating for the stock.

Pharmaceutical giant Roche announced the availability of a tool to help medical professionals detect the Zika virus. Shares closed over 2 percent up on the news.

Elsewhere, the easing of fears around Brexit also helped boost U.K. housebuilders Taylor Wimpey and Berkeley Group, both closing above 5.5 percent. Travel and leisure stocks was one of Europe's best performing sectors, closing up 5.1 percent, with Thomas Cook, IAG and Ryanair jumping 5.5 percent or more each.

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