Euro, stocks rise ahead of French election; bonds fall

Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:37pm EDT
 
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By Rodrigo Campos and and Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks on major markets rose along with the euro on Thursday as a market-friendly presidential candidate led in opinion polls ahead of elections in France on Sunday.

Former French finance minister, Emmanuel Macron, maintained a slim lead in polls, but the election is still a four-way battle in the first round vote on April 23. Should Macron rank first or second in Sunday's election, he is seen easily winning the runoff 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 turnout could catch markets wrong-footed yet again.

France's CAC stock index .FCHI jumped 1.5 percent, its strongest daily performance since March 1.

On Wall Street, stocks rose as traders continued to bet on a strong earnings reporting season. Profit expectations have risen in the last two weeks and S&P 500 stock index company earnings now are expected to have gained 11.1 percent in the first quarter.

"You look at a day like today and it tells you there is a lot of cash on the sidelines that wants an opportunity to buy when the market sells off even just a little bit," said Phil Blancato, CEO of Ladenberg Thalmann Asset Management in New York.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 174.22 points, or 0.85 percent, to 20,578.71, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 17.67 points, or 0.76 percent, to 2,355.84 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 53.74 points, or 0.92 percent, to 5,916.78.

The Nasdaq closed at a record.   Continued...

 
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 20, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid