Euro, markets rally as France's Macron set for presidential win

AFP , Monday 24 Apr 2017

The euro surged and stock markets also rallied Monday after moderate Emmanuel Macron won the first round in France's presidential election and looked set to triumph in the run-off against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen next month.

Investors globally had been watching the vote fearing that a wave of populism, which swept Donald Trump to the White House and saw Britain leave the EU, could lead to a win for the anti-European Le Pen and put the future of the bloc in doubt.

However, Macron is widely expected to gallop to victory over the divisive Front National leader and traders gave a huge thumbs-up, sending the euro flying to $1.0846 from $1.0726 in New York on Friday, while it also jumped to 119.40 yen from 117.07 yen.

"Markets are happy to buy what they see as the fact -- that 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron will be confirmed as the next president of the French republic in two weeks' time," Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank, said in a commentary.

The boost in optimism also hit the yen -- considered a safe bet in times of uncertainty -- which in turn lifted Japanese exporters.

By the break in Tokyo the Nikkei was up 1.4 percent while Hong Kong added 0.3 percent, Sydney added 0.3 percent and Seoul gained 0.2 percent. However, Shanghai sank almost one percent, extending a recent sell-off fuelled by concerns the market was overvalued after recent healthy gains.

"Given that pre-vote polling shows that Macron should trounce Le Pen on May 7, markets are already celebrating as though Macron is already the president of The Republic," said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader, in a note.

The gains in Asia extended Friday's rally that was built on comments from US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who promised a tax reform plan would be unveiled soon.

That was followed by Trump saying Friday that there would be "a big announcement on Wednesday having to do with tax reform".

Short link: