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U.K. leads European market gains in 2017

Map of Europe. Detail from the World Atlas.

The U.K. led the way for European market gains in 2017 with a 11.85% return for the year, said S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The index provider said the S&P United Kingdom also contributed the most to European markets last year, at 2.23 percentage points, with the S&P Europe 350 returning 10.75% overall.

The next highest contributor was the S&P France at 2 percentage points of the overall return, followed by S&P Germany at 1.82 percentage points.

The U.K. makes up about 28.3% of the S&P Europe 350, followed by Germany, 15.5%, and France, 14.6%.

Europe's equity markets benefited from political tailwinds in the form of Dutch, French and German elections, said S&P DJI in a comment accompanying the data.

The U.K.'s 11.85% gain, in local currency terms, was bolstered slightly by the likelihood of a so-called hard Brexit — the terms under which the U.K. will exit the European Union — diminishing, said S&P DJI. However, this was offset by a positive impact on the pound sterling, with currency appreciation meaning overseas-earned revenues were relatively less valuable to U.K.-based companies.

In terms of sectors for Europe, information technology gained 22.31% in 2017, while materials benefited from rising commodity prices to end the year with a 19.09% return. Telecommunications lagged with a 1.97% return in 2017.