CURRENCIES: Euro Hits 3-week High As Macron Holds Slim Lead In French Presidential Poll

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Euro's best scenario would be run-off between French centrist, conservative hopefuls, says analyst

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The euro popped up to a three-week high against the U.S. dollar Thursday, finding support after a poll indicated French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron was holding to a lead in what's set to be a tight race on Sunday.

The euro fetched $1.0743, and hit an intraday high of $1.0778, the strongest level since March 28, according to FactSet data. That's up from $1.0712 late Wednesday in New York.

The shared currency's strength helped push the ICE U.S. Dollar Index , a gauge of the dollar's strength against a basket of six rivals, down 0.1% to 99.617.

The euro advanced after a Harris Interactive poll showed Macron with 25% support among respondents, slightly higher than 22% for far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, who has called for France to ditch the euro and its membership in the European Union.

Macron is running as an independent, but served as economy minister under Socialist President François Hollande.

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(https://twitter.com/AlbertoNardelli/status/854978612407279616)

But overall, polls ahead of Sunday's election have shown the race between the top four candidates remains extremely close. Far-left, euroskeptic Jean-Luc Melenchon has recently surged in the polls while conservative Francois Fillon's scandal-stricken campaign has seen a rebound in support.

Read:How to dazzle voters on the campaign trail? Upstart French candidate turns to holograms (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-to-dazzle-voters-on-the-campaign-trail-communist-backed-french-candidate-turns-to-holograms-2017-04-11)

"The best case scenario for the euro would be a Macron-Fillon run-off, while the worst case would see Le Pen and Melenchon fighting it out in the second round," said Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG, in a note.

"The most likely scenario still appears to be Macron and Le Pen in the second round, but there are plenty of undecided French voters who could make a difference and the vote looks as uncertain as it ever has," he said.

Read: Here's how France's hotly contested election could spark market turmoil (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-frances-hotly-contested-election-could-spark-market-turmoil-2017-04-19)

Against Japan's currency, the dollar traded at Yen109.07, up from Yen108.86 late Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the pound bought $1.2803, paring a stronger gain, but still up from $1.2779 late Wednesday.

The pound on Tuesday reclaimed the $1.28 handle for the first time since October after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May unexpectedly called an early general election. British lawmakers on Wednesday approved May's plan to hold a snap election June 8, moving it foward from 2020.

May said a snap election would give the government a clear mandate ahead of Brexit negotiations with the European Union.

Read:Why the snap U.K. election is a 'game changer' for the pound (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-why-the-pound-surged-to-10-week-high-after-may-called-snap-uk-election-2017-04-18)

Also:Snap election 'virtually rules out' the U.K. staying in EU's single market (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-snap-election-virtually-rules-out-staying-in-eus-single-market-says-morgan-stanley-2017-04-19)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 20, 2017 08:20 ET (12:20 GMT)