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Europe ends mostly higher as fears over Irma, North Korea ease; rise in sterling weighs on FTSE

Key Points
  • The United Nations Security Council unanimously agrees to step up sanctions on North Korea.
  • British lawmakers vote in favor of timetable to debate legislation for severing ties with the EU after Brexit.
  • French workers protest President Emmanuel Macron's labor reforms.
  • U.K. inflation rises to 2.9 percent in August.
Weaker pound creates opportunities in the UK: CPPIB

European stocks finished Tuesday mostly higher as investors took stock of the impact of Hurricane Irma while tensions on the Korean Peninsula appeared to abate.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended trade up 0.52 percent, off session highs, while almost all sectors closed in the black.

The German DAX and the French CAC closed the session sharply higher, up 0.4 percent and 0.62 percent respectively; with most periphery bourses ending in the black too. The FTSE 100, however, came under pressure following the latest U.K. inflation data, finishing 0.17 percent down.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

On Tuesday, European equities were supported by its fellow markets in Asia and in the U.S., with all regions posting solid gains as investors took sanctuary in easing geopolitical tensions.

On Monday, the U.S. insisted that it was not looking for war with North Korea, despite joining other members of the United Nations Security Council in unanimously agreeing to step up sanctions against the closed state.

Irma's impact on European sectors

Banks and financial services were among the top performing sectors in Europe, both up 1 percent or more by the close. Investment manager Partners Group AG was near the top of the STOXX 600, finishing up more than 4 percent. Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and Italy's Banco BPM meanwhile shifted higher and all closed above 2.5 percent, buoyed by the shifting sentiment.

The insurance sector popped 0.78 percent as individual stocks began their recovery from Hurricane Irma. The storm, thought to be one of the most powerful ever to hit the Atlantic, was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone on Tuesday by the U.S.' National Hurricane Center and analysts have suggested that its economic impact might be slightly lower than previously anticipated.

The travel and leisure industry finished on a positive note, despite facing criticism over its relief efforts for tourists in the wake of the storm. Some individual stocks, however, took a hit from a series of strikes in France over President Emmanuel Macron's labor reforms. Ryanair closed roughly flat, after some 20,000 passengers had their flights canceled as a result of the strike.

Hurricane Irma insurance loss estimated at $20-30 billion

Looking at individual stocks, Swiss security firm Dormakaba soared 8.54 percent after reporting a 9.4 percent increase in sales Tuesday.

Construction firm Ashtead Group meanwhile rose 4.45 percent after it forecast increased demand following hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

However, shares in Sky declined 1.62 percent, after the British government toughened its stance on the $15 billion takeover of the broadcaster by Rupert Murdoch. The surprise move concerned investors during trade over fears that the takeover could be blocked, Reuters reported.

U.K. inflation rises higher

U.K. inflation rose higher in August, hitting 2.9 percent, according to new data released by The Office for National Statistics Tuesday. The figures will add renewed pressure to the Bank of England, which will meet Thursday to make its latest monetary policy decision. Around the market close, the U.K. pound was trading up against the likes of the euro and U.S. dollar.

Also in Britain, the U.K. government passed a major hurdle in Brexit negotiations Tuesday, receiving backing from British lawmakers in the first stage of its bid to extract the U.K. from EU law.

Meanwhile, Norway's conservative prime minister, Erna Solberg, and her right-wing coalition government claimed victory in the country's general election Tuesday.

Looking ahead, investors will be keeping a watchful eye on U.S. tech giant Apple on Tuesday, as the company delivers its latest consumer products event. Consequently, the event took up attention on Wall Street, with stocks trading in the black on Tuesday.

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