European stocks finish on a high note, even as Brexit turbulence amplifies

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up 0.58 percent provisionally, with the majority of the region's sectors finishing in positive territory.
  • Investors followed news that U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit secretary David Davis have quit.
  • Air France-KLM was one of the Stoxx 600's top performers, after posting higher passenger numbers for June.

European equities ended Monday's session in the black, as investors reacted to news that two key Brexit proponents had resigned from the British government.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up 0.58 percent provisionally, with the majority of the region's sectors finishing in positive territory.

European markets

In spite of chaos surrounding Brexit, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 popped 0.92 percent, while the French CAC 40 rose 0.42 percent and Germany's DAX finished up 0.38 percent. Peripheral markets across the board finished in the black.

Basic resources outperformed peers, rising some 2 percent as trade war news took a breather. The upbeat sentiment was supported by the latest Sentix survey, which measures investor confidence in the eurozone. The index rose to 12.3 in July, from 9.3 in June.

Looking at individual stocks, shares of Air France-KLM soared to the top of the Stoxx 600 after posting higher passenger numbers for June, despite several strikes. The airline climbed 6.34 percent, only to be outpaced by Inmarsat. The London-listed firm closed up over 7 percent.

Sticking with the top performers, Tgs-Nopec jumped almost 6 percent after reporting higher revenues for the second quarter compared to a year ago.

On the other hand, French food producer Danone foundered near the bottom of the index, slipping 2 percent. News has emerged that the firm is looking into reports that its Aptamil baby milk formula is making some infants sick.

French carmaker Renault came off its lows, but closed lower on concerns about its partner company Nissan. The latter has admitted that it falsified exhaust emission and fuel economy data in Japanese passenger vehicles.

The worst performing sector was utilities, closing down 0.96 percent, with all three of the Stoxx 600's biggest losers coming from the sector: Rubis, Severn Trent and Pennon Group.

Brexit chaos resurfaces

The moves in European markets on Monday come amid Brexit-related turmoil. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a proponent of the U.K.'s bid to leave the European Union, resigned on Monday afternoon, swiftly following the departure of Brexit Secretary David Davis.

Sterling fell 0.2 percent on the day after news of Johnson's resignation, according to Reuters. Since the news broke, sterling has continued its drop into the red, last standing at $1.3244 against the U.S. dollar at Europe's close.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May reached a compromise Friday to go ahead with a plan that would mean the country had the closest possible ties with the EU. On Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said that Parliament should prepare for a number of different outcomes, with preparations for a "no deal" Brexit having to be stepped up.

Markets around the globe remained upbeat and tried to shake off concerns surrounding Brexit. In the U.S., stocks posted sharp gains around Europe's market close, on the back of a rise in tech and financials, with the jumping over 250 points. Meantime, Asia-Pacific stocks finished the session on a positive note, as a trade spat between the U.S. and major economies took a backseat — for the time being.

After the close, investors will be turning their attention to the U.S., where President Donald Trump is expected to announce his nominee choice for the U.S. Supreme Court justice on Monday evening, to replace Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring at the end of July.