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European markets close higher after Macron’s victory; French banks soar; CAC up 4%

European markets closed higher on Monday after centrist presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron, secured the most votes in the first round of the French election.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended up by over 2.1 percent with all sectors and major bourses trading in positive territory. The benchmark hit its highest level since early December 2015. While, the French CAC 40 bourse jumped 4.1 percent, to notch highs not seen in more than nine years with the German DAX also recording an all-time high of 12,454.

Stocks of French banks dominated the top of the European benchmark with Credit Agricole, Societe Generale, Natixis and BNP Paribas all closing over 7.5 percent higher on Monday. Axa and Vinci also traded higher as a rally in french stocks boosted the entire sector and subsequently outperformed its peers.

Investors are confident Macron is poised to defeat his far-right opponent, Marine Le Pen, in the runoff vote as the former economy minister's first round success sparked an unwinding in safe haven trades. Should Macron emerge victorious on May 7, traders appear optimistic the French economy could benefit from the frontrunner's ambitious reform policies and the European Union should also be more likely to retain its second-biggest economy.

As a result, the euro jumped and posted its best daily climb against the dollar since last June. It climbed 1.19 percent to $1.0854 shortly after European markets closed on Monday.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average and broader S&P 500 index both continued significantly higher as investors breathed a sigh of relief on Macron's first round election victory. The blue-chips index moved up by around 200 points at the start of the trading week while the Nasdaq opened at another fresh record high.

Earnings 

Politics aside, the maker of medical devices Philips reported better-than-expected core earnings of 442 million euros ($480 million) for the first quarter. Philips rose 3.6 percent on Monday.

The fashion brand Jimmy Choo announced Monday morning that it put itself up for sale as part of a "strategic review of the company." Its shares rose 9.5 percent.

Meanwhile, Eric Olsen, CEO of LafargeHolcim, the world's largest cement maker, resigned Monday morning, in the wake of a report into allegations the company paid armed groups in Syria to keep a plant open. Its shares closed under pressure on Monday.

The British energy firm Centrica slipped 3.5 percent after the Conservative U.K. government announced plans to cap domestic prices if re-elected in June.

Also, Credit Suisse is set for a shareholder revolt this week over compensation for its top managers, despite the bank's executive board agreeing a voluntary 40 percent cut in its bonuses, according to the Financial Times. The Swiss bank's shares jumped 4.3 percent on the news.

In Germany, the IFO institute said that business morale has risen in the largest euro economy. Its index jumped to 112.9 in April from 112.4 in March. This was the highest reading since July 2011.

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