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FOREX-Euro hovers above 1-month low as French election nerves grow
April 10, 2017 / 12:06 PM / 7 months ago

FOREX-Euro hovers above 1-month low as French election nerves grow

* Euro pressured by French election uncertainty

* Dollar off 3-week highs hit in Asian trade

* Eyes on Fed Chair Yellen’s speech later

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2017

By Ritvik Carvalho

LONDON, April 10 (Reuters) - The euro edged lower against the dollar on Monday, pressured by nervousness over the upcoming French presidential election as investors took stock of polls showing a tightening race.

Investors are closely following the campaign as one candidate -- far-right leader Marine Le Pen -- has promised a referendum on France’s membership of the European Union if she wins, fuelling concerns of an unravelling of the bloc after Britain’s vote to leave last year.

Polls have for weeks shown Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron on track to top the first round of voting on April 23 and go through to the May 7 run-off. However, two less fancied candidates, Francois Fillon and Jean-Luc Melenchon held mass rallies on Sunday, making it an increasingly tight race.

The euro was 0.1 percent lower at $1.0578 in late morning European trade, hovering above its lowest level in a month -- $1.0570 hit overnight.

“There’s obviously a little bit of (selling) interest now as we’re into the formal stages of the French presidential campaign...that’s focusing the market’s mind on rising political risk once again in Europe,” said Jeremy Stretch, currency strategist with CIBC World Markets in London.

While euro/dollar implied volatility, or the cost of protection against big swings in the exchange rate, over the coming month touched its highest since just after Britain’s Brexit vote, the single currency held up against the Japanese yen and the Swiss franc, trading mostly flat against the perceived safe-haven currencies.

“I think (this is because)...investors are just mindful of Japanese investors looking to export capital into the new financial year so that’s probably just having a bit of a dragging factor on the yen and for the Swiss (franc) there’s clearly always the risk of the Swiss National Bank (intervening) on the other side,” Stretch said.

The dollar was slightly lower against a currency basket in European trade after touching three-week highs in Asia.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against six major currencies, was off slightly at 101.22 after rising as high as 101.340, its highest since March 15.

The dollar was up 0.2 percent at 111.25 yen.

New York Fed President William Dudley said the Fed might avoid raising interest rates at the same time that it begins shrinking its balance sheet, prompting only a “little pause” in the central bank’s rate hike plans.

Currency strategist Alvin Tan with Societe Generale in London said the greenback’s move in Asia was a continuation of Friday following Dudley’s comments.

“We’re waiting for Fed chair Yellen’s speech which might be important if she makes any comments about monetary policy direction,” he said.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen will make a speech at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy later on Monday.

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url= (Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; additional reporting by Tokyo markets team; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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