Europe ends on a high note despite Italy's political uncertainty; AXA sinks 9.7%

  • The pan-European STOXX 600 closed provisionally higher by 1.04 percent, with the majority of sectors posting strong gains.
  • Autos stocks meantime came under pressure during trade after President Donald Trump threatened European car makers with a tax on imports if the EU moved to retaliate over his plan to impose a tariff on steel and aluminum imports.
  • Italy's FTSE MIB was one of the few indexes that finished trade lower, after the country's voters opted to shun mainstream politics for anti-establishment parties.

European markets extended gains on Monday to finish the session sharply higher, as investors appeared to brush aside concerns of political gridlock in Italy.

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The pan-European STOXX 600 closed provisionally higher by 1.04 percent, with the majority of sectors posting strong gains.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 closed up 0.65 percent and France's CAC 40 rose 0.6 percent, while Germany's DAX closed 1.49 percent higher. Stocks in Europe received a boost by the close, as U.S. stocks reversed earlier losses to trade higher — with the Dow Jones industrial average up more than 100 points at 4:30 p.m. U.K. time.

While most of the region's bourses finished in the black, Italy's FTSE MIB closed down 0.42 percent, following news that the country's voters opted to shun mainstream politics for anti-establishment parties. During Monday's session, the FTSE MIB fell more than 1 percent and entered correction levels, off some 10 percent from the highs it saw on January 23, 2018.

Tesco completes takeover of Booker

Europe's retail stocks performed well on Monday, closing up 1.18 percent amid takeover news. Tesco completed a £4 billion ($5.51 billion) takeover of Booker, creating a new powerhouse in Britain's food market. Tesco's shares jumped 1 percent following the announcement.

Autos came under pressure during the session, after President Donald Trump threatened European car-makers over the weekend with a tax on imports if the European Union (EU) moved to retaliate over his plan to impose a tariff on steel and aluminum imports. A number of German and French automakers fell into the red during trade, but recouped some losses after Trump suggested in a tweet that he could drop tariffs if a "new and fair" NAFTA agreement was signed.

In individual stocks, shares of silicon wafer group Siltronic surged 7.62 percent after the Munich-based firm reported its latest figures, saying that it was forecasting a highly-positive 2018 fiscal year.

Europe's second-largest insurer AXA however slumped 9.7 percent after it agreed to buy Bermuda-based XL Group for around $15 billion.

Italy's election outcome unclear

According to official projections, Italy will see a hung parliament following its election Sunday. Voters opted for anti-establishment and far-right parties in higher numbers than before, meaning that none of the country's three main parties will be able to govern Europe's third-largest economy alone. The outcome of a euroskeptic coalition is a possibility.

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement rose to become Italy's largest single party, though a rightest alliance which includes former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia received the biggest portion of votes. Consequently, Italian lenders sank to the bottom of the banking sector, with Banco BPM and BPER Banca both closing down more than 6 percent each.