April 10, 2017 / 8:50 AM / 4 months ago

Euro zone investor morale shrugs off French election fears

Euro coins are seen in front of displayed flag and map of European Union in this picture illustration taken in Zenica, May 28 2015.Dado Ruvic/Files

BERLIN (Reuters) - Investor sentiment in the euro zone improved more than expected in April to remain at the highest level in almost 10 years on Monday, shrugging off risks linked to a closely watched presidential election in France.

The Frankfurt-based Sentix research group's euro zone index rose to 23.9 points, its highest level since August 2007. That exceeded the consensus forecast of 21.0 in a Reuters poll of analysts.

The index last month rose to 20.7 from 17.4 in February as concern dissipated that global political risks could end an economic upswing.

"The euro zone has emancipated itself from global tendencies, as the assessment for other world regions is by no means unequivocal," Sentix said in a statement.

"The euro zone continues to make further economic progress.

Before the important presidential election in France, the current situation index for the euro zone economy rose to the highest level since January 2008," it said.

France will elect a new president in a two-round ballot in April and May. Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron is expected to contest a run-off against far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen. Her plans to ditch the euro and hold a referendum on European Union membership have spooked many investors, who fear a "Frexit" after British voters chose last year to leave the EU.

Sentix said the current situation sub-index for the euro zone was 28.8, up from 23.8 in March.

An index tracking Germany, the euro zone's largest economy, rose to 35.3 in April from 34.1 in March.

"The strong euro zone, which has been fired up by an extremely expansive monetary policy, has not failed to leave its mark on the strongest euro economy," Sentix said, suggesting

Germany was benefiting from a recovery in the currency bloc.

By contrast, the indices for the United States and Japan fell. Sentix linked the fall in the world's largest economy to U.S. President Donald Trump.

"The president talks a lot, but his messages are reaching investors increasingly less," Sentix wrote. "Trump has become a killer of perspectives."

U.S. stocks have risen to record highs since Trump's election after he vowed to remove some of the regulations introduced after the financial crisis and to boost spending on the military and infrastructure.

Sentix polled 1,035 investors on April 6 to 8.

Reporting by Joseph Nasr, editing by Larry King

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