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GLOBAL MARKETS-Euro, stocks gain ahead of French election; Treasuries slip
April 20, 2017 / 3:48 PM / in 7 months

GLOBAL MARKETS-Euro, stocks gain ahead of French election; Treasuries slip

(Updates with U.S. markets, changes comments, dateline from previous LONDON)

* Wall St boosted by earnings

* Euro shorts close positions, traders say

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, April 20 (Reuters) - 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 U.S. 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 April 23. Should Macron rank first or second in Sunday’s poll, he is seen easily winning the run-off vote on May 7 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 percent on its strongest daily performance since March 1.

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 percent 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 percent, to 20,503.65, the S&P 500 gained 10.19 points, or 0.44 percent, to 2,348.36 and the Nasdaq Composite added 32.61 points, or 0.56 percent, to 5,895.65.

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

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

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 U.S. dollar index fell 0.29 percent, with the euro up 0.56 percent to $1.0769.

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

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

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

U.S. 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 percent.

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

Spot gold added 0.2 percent to $1,281.27 an ounce. U.S. gold futures percent to $1,283.40 an ounce.

Copper rose 1.43 percent to $5,635.50 a tonne.

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

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