LONDON — The euro saw big gains on Monday after centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron won the biggest share of the vote in the first round of France's presidential election on Sunday.
Macron — the most pro-EU candidate on the ballot — won 23.8% of first round votes, beating far right, anti-EU candidate Marine Le Pen by more than 2%. The two will now face a run-off to determine who will be president on May 7. Polls suggest that Macron should win the second round comfortably.
Given Macron's pro-EU stance, his progression to the second round of the vote has assuaged many fears in the markets about the potential for a French exit from the European Union, something favoured both by Le Pen and far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon, who gained around 19% of first round ballots.
That in turn, sent the euro skywards on Sunday evening as results came in, with the single currency climbing more than 2% to hit its highest level since the day after Donald Trump was elected US president. "Relief. That is the word that basically describes the sharp moves in the markets today," Forex.com market analyst Fawad Razaqzada said in an emailed statement a little earlier.
Sunday night's rally was sharp and almost instant, and although the single currency pulled back from its highest overnight levels, it remained up by more than 1.2% to trade at 1.0858 against the dollar as of 4.40 p.m. BST (11.40 a.m. ET)
Prior to Sunday's vote markets feared the potential for both Le Pen and Melenchon to reach the second round. Markets would likely have seen a substantial sell-off on Monday morning, with fears about the potential break-up of the eurozone coming into sharp focus given the certainty of having a hugely eurosceptic leader at the helm of one of the key pillars of the continent.
- The euro is steady the day after its Macron inspired rally
- DEUTSCHE BANK: Stop looking at France and concentrate on another huge risk to the EU — Italy
- NOMURA: Macron could send the euro to $1.15