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Global stocks, euro gain ahead of French presidential election

LiveMint logoLiveMint 20-04-2017 Rodrigo Campos

New York: The euro and stocks on major markets recovered on Thursday as a market-friendly presidential candidate held the lead ahead of Sunday’s first-round election in France, while the yen and US Treasury prices weakened.

Former French finance minister, Emmanuel Macron, remained atop the polls for Sunday’s French vote, but the election is still a four-way battle in the first round on 23 April. Should Macron rank first or second in Sunday’s poll, he is seen easily winning the run-off vote on 7 May after remaining candidates are eliminated.

However, after surprises in last year’s U.S. election and the UK Brexit referendum, voter indecision and low voter turnout could catch markets wrong-footed yet again.

France’s CAC stock index jumped 1.7% on its strongest daily performance since 1 March.

On Wall Street, stocks rose as traders continued to bet on a strong earnings reporting season. Profits at S&P 500 index companies are estimated to have risen 11.1% in the first quarter.

“As we see a steady stream of earnings, on balance the season has been better and that’s helping the market today,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 99.16 points, or 0.49%, to 20,503.65, the S&P 500 gained 10.19 points, or 0.44%, to 2,348.36 and the Nasdaq Composite added 32.61 points, or 0.56%, to 5,895.65.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.25% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.49%.

Emerging market stocks rose 0.65%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.7% higher, while Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.01%.

Euro jumps

Currency traders said short-term players were closing out positions taken in anticipation of euro weakness before the French election, emboldened by the steady stream of polls confirming that centrist Macron would lead returns on Sunday.

“Short euro is still one of the larger positions out there. No risk on the table means take some of that off,” said BMO strategist Stephen Gallo.

“(But) there is still no fundamental reason for the euro to be rising here.”

The US dollar index fell 0.29%, with the euro up 0.56% to $1.0769.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.34% versus the greenback at 109.25 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.2828, up 0.40% on the day.

Oil prices fell further after Wednesday’s steep losses, with rising US production weighing against comments from leading Gulf oil producers that an extension to OPEC-led supply cuts was likely.

US crude rose 0.1% to $50.49 per barrel and Brent was last at $53.03, up 0.19% on the day.

US Treasury yields rose as investors waited on the results from the French election, after the 10-year yield earlier failed to break below key technical resistance at 2.19%.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 12/32 in price to yield 2.2445%, from 2.202% late on Wednesday.

Spot gold added 0.2% to $1,281.27 an ounce. US gold futures rose to $1,283.40 an ounce.

Copper rose 1.43% to $5,635.50 a tonne. Reuters

Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru, Libby George and Patrick Graham in London, and Karen Brettell in New York.

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