Quiet day as Macron’s victory largely priced into the market

Markets report: Traders had expected result in low volume, steady day in several markets

European stocks closed near the highest level since August 2015, ending the session little changed after centrist Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the French presidential election, indicating investors had mostly priced in the outcome that polls had consistently predicted.

In Ireland, the Iseq Overall Index fell by 0.6 per cent to 7,102.29 on a day of “quieter volumes”, according to one trader.


Irish-Swiss food group Aryzta closed down more than 4 per cent at €31.665 after quashing earlier speculation it might sell its stake in French food group Picard.

Index heavyweight CRH closed down 1.5 per cent at €34.03 due to sectoral weakness, while Smurfit Kappa closed down 1.4 per cent at €25.60.


Among the gainers, hotel group Dalata and ferry operator Irish Continental Group finished up by 2 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.


The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.1 per cent at the close, while the Euro Stoxx 50 Index lost less than 0.5 per cent. France’s CAC 40 Index fell 0.9 per cent after rallying in the previous two sessions.

European equities initially opened higher after Macron, a former investment banker, defeated far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, but gave up early gains to trade flat to slightly negative.

Among industry groups, real estate and travel companies climbed the most, offsetting a drop in miners. The region’s stocks had already rallied since the first round of the presidential election on April 24th, with the broader Stoxx 600 still up 9 per cent this year.

Some analysts argue that Macron’s victory has been largely priced into the stock market, as polls had repeatedly predicted he would win against Le Pen by a wide margin.

The outcome will likely release the "political handbrake" which has impacted investor behaviour thus far, Citigroup Inc strategist Jonathan Stubbs wrote in a note. He expects international investors, including those from the US, to now buy more European equities.


The blue chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.1 percent at 7,291.17 points at the close, slightly outperforming the broader European benchmark.

Real estate firm Intu Properties added 2.2 per cent, while Land Securities Group was up 1.7 per cent.

Bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair, and airline EasyJet were among the session's top risers, tracking a Europe-wide jump in travel and leisure stocks, which are vulnerable to political instability.

Consumer giant Unilever was also up 1.6 per cent. Utility Centrica, which owns British Gas, gained 1.9 per cent, reversing earlier losses after it said it would meet 2017 targets despite reporting disappointing first quarter results.

Centrica said warmer weather and weaker energy prices had eroded profit margins and announced it had lost 261,000 customers since the start of the year.

A fall among miners was the biggest sectoral weight due to a drop in copper prices. Shares in Glencore, Antofagasta and Anglo American fell between 1.7 per cent and 2.5 per cent, taking nearly 6 points off the FTSE 100.


On Wall Street, the S&P 500 touched a record high in early trading before turning negative in the late morning.

"The [French election] results came in as expected and the market had already factored that in," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 15.1 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 20,991.84, the S&P 500 lost 2.98 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 2,396.31 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 12.48 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 6,088.28.

Oil prices, which hit almost six-month lows last week on worries about a global glut of crude, slid further even as OPEC hinted there could be an extension to the current production cuts, which expire in June.

US crude fell 0.61 percent to $45.94 per barrel and Brent was last at $48.70, down 0.81 percent on the day.

- (Additional reporting by Bloomberg and Reuters)

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times