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Geneva — A year ago LVMH, the owner of luxury brand Louis Vuitton, became France’s biggest company by market value, a mantle energy giant Total and drug maker Sanofi had shared for almost a decade. Rival Kering was nowhere in sight. A more than 200% rally since the start of 2016, and more than 70% over the past 12 months, has now put the owner of "it bag" brands within shouting distance of the top five stocks in the CAC 40 index. The spectacular rise in both companies’ fortunes, fuelled by booming demand from Asia and millennials for designer handbags, flashy shoes and clothes as expensive as jewels, is reshaping the French benchmark, long the realm of energy, infrastructure, financial and telecommunications stocks. The CAC 40, the second best performer behind Italy among major European peers this year, is trading at levels not seen since before the global financial crisis in December 2007. France’s luxury companies "are well managed and have been more successful than others in attr...

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