Europe Markets

European markets close higher; FTSE rises as sterling dips; UK's May forms government alliance

Bourses in Europe closed higher on Friday afternoon after British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that she would form a government alliance with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) following an inconclusive general election.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the day up 0.32 percent in afternoon deals, and all major bourses ticked up on May's announcement, which pledged a future of "certainty" for the U.K. Her Conservative party will be backed by the DUP in order to secure a parliamentary majority. May received approval from the Queen to remain in power early Friday afternoon.

All major bourses were little changed on the week.

The FTSE 100 maintained gains throughout Friday trading, ending the day up 1 percent. This was supported by a fall in sterling with many big conglomerates on the index earning revenues in U.S. dollars. The pound was down nearly 2 percent against the dollar in early deals and stood at $1.2738 in afternoon deals.

Sectors were ended Friday trade mixed, however, with 7 of the 18 sectors in negative territory. The political uncertainty sent the biggest U.K. house builders and construction material retailers to the bottom of the European benchmark early Friday as investors worried that decisions to purchase houses might be impacted. Berkeley Group ended the day at the bottom of the benchmark, down 3.35 percent. Taylor Wimpey was also lower by 3.2 percent while Travis Perkins down 2.9 percent. The sector overall, however, was up 1.03 percent to become the second-best performer.

British banks suffered from the election outcome. RBS and Lloyds were both down by more than 2.4 percent and one percent respectively. Those more internationally-focused such as HSBC and Standard Chartered were up more than 1.5 percent given their lower exposure to the U.K. economy.

Other U.K.-listed companies such as Sainsbury's, Next and Marks and Spencer also ended the day lower on concerns that the political instability may hurt consumer sentiment and purchasing power.

May confirmed in a speech to Downing Street on Friday afternoon that Brexit talks are to go ahead as scheduled from June 19.

U.S. markets meanwhile moved higher as stocks appeared to shake off the U.K. election shock.

Other market moves

Swedish biometrics company Fingerprint B ended the day at the top of the European benchmark, up more than 7 percent, marking a 10-week high.

Earlier in the session, shares of Ubi Banca were halted from trading after rising 6.5 percent. The stock seemed to have been supported by a rating upgrade from local brokerage Equita. It was up 3.5 percent by close of play.

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