Euro scales five-month peak on French election relief

By Wayne Cole
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An illustration picture shows euro coins

An illustration picture shows euro coins, April 8, 2017. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The euro vaulted to five-month peaks in choppy Asian trading on Monday after the market's favoured candidate won through the first round of the French election, sparking a mass unwinding of safe-haven trades.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 climbed 0.9 percent in early trade, while futures for the 10-year U.S. Treasury note sank 25 ticks <0#TY:>.

Centrist Emmanuel Macron took a big step towards the French presidency on Sunday by winning the first round of voting and qualifying for the May 7 runoff alongside far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

The outcome lessens the risk of an anti-establishment shock on the scale of Britain's vote to quit the European Union with Macron widely tipped to win the final vote and keep France in the union.

Investors had feared for the single currency's future if one of the far-left candidates had gotten through to fight Le Pen, and the euro jumped in relief. It was last up 1.5 percent at $1.0880 , having been as far as $1.0940, the highest since early November.

The safe-haven yen was dumped across the board with the euro surging 2.6 percent to 120.03 yen while the U.S. dollar gained 1.2 percent to 110.34 yen .

"We expect Macron to win the second round and to become the next French president, on the basis that the candidate closest to the centre of the political spectrum has the best chance to win," said analysts at Citi in a note. "Given Macron's pro-EU platform, the outlook for Europe ought to be strengthened."

Indeed, opinion polls were putting Macron ahead by over 20 points, a lead so large that a repeat of the Brexit surprise seemed highly unlikely.

Citi cautioned against chasing the euro much above $1.0900.

"The results are EUR positive, but with the ECB on Thursday, as well as still uncertainty into Round Two, we would emphasise these results are in-line with expectations, not exceeding them," they wrote.

Dealers assumed equities globally would get a relief bounce from the French result, while sovereign bonds could run into profit taking. Likewise, gold fell 1 percent to $1,270.83 an ounce .

Wall Street on Friday had only a modest lift from news President Donald Trump would announce the broad outline of his proposed tax package on Wednesday.

"Markets are sceptical that the real details will be forthcoming," said analysts at ANZ in a note. "There is also plenty of conjecture about whether any tax cuts will be able to be revenue neutral, and that could affect their ease of passage through Congress."

The Dow <.DJI> ended Friday down a minor 0.15 percent, while the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 0.30 percent and the Nasdaq <.IXIC> fell 0.11 percent.

Investors were also keeping a wary eye on tensions in the Korean peninsular.

North Korea said on Sunday it was ready to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might, in the latest sign of rising tension as Trump prepared to call the leaders of China and Japan.

Oil prices recouped just a little of last week's hefty losses, still weighed by signs U.S. production and inventory growth were offsetting OPEC's attempts to reduce the global crude glut.

Brent futures were up 21 cents at $52.17 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures added 18 cents to $49.80.

(Editing by Chris Reese)