Euro jumps, Asian shares rally on French election relief

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.

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People are seen in front of an electronic board showing stock prices outside a brokerage at a business district in Tokyo, Japan, January 4, 2017. Reuters

The euro vaulted to five-month peaks in choppy Asian trading on Monday after the market's favored candidate won through the first round of the French election, reducing the risk of a Brexit-like shock and sparking a mass unwinding of safe-haven trades.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 ESc1 climbed 0.8 percent in early trade, while futures for the 10-year U.S. Treasury note sank 22 ticks <0#TY:>.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS tacked on 0.3 percent, while Japan's Nikkei .N225 jumped 1.4 percent as the yen retreated.

Centrist Emmanuel Macron took a big step toward 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. The euro jumped in relief, and was last up 1.2 percent at $1.0860 EUR=, having been as far as $1.0940, the highest since early November.

The safe-haven yen slipped across the board with the euro surging 2.1 percent to 119.46 yen EURJPY= while the U.S. dollar gained 0.8 percent to 109.96 yen JPY=. Likewise, gold fell 0.8 percent to $1,273.30 an ounce XAU=.

"The rise of the euro and risk appetite rebounding is understandable and this should also see yields in Europe fall, spreads to Bunds tighten and stocks rally," said Tim Riddell, an analyst at Westpac.

"However, such gains are likely to be contained when markets reflect upon the marked shift away from the "establishment" and just how effective the new president may be," he added.

Opinion polls put Macron ahead by over 20 points, a lead so large that a repeat of the Brexit surprise seemed highly unlikely.

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 skeptical 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 peninsula.

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 LCOc1 were up 15 cents at $52.11 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures CLc1 added 10 cents to $49.72.

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