CURRENCIES: Euro Jumps To 5-month High In French Election Relief Rally

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Centrist Macron clear favorite to win second round of French presidential election

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The euro jumped to a five-month high on Monday after Emmanuel Macron won the first round of voting in the French presidential election, easing worries that only anti-European Union candidates would be in the final runoff.

Centrist candidate Macron and far-right politician Marine Le Pen won the most backing in the hotly contested vote Sunday, qualifying for the final round in May and shutting out the two mainstream parties.

Investors had feared a "nightmare" scenario (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/here-are-3-things-the-french-election-could-do-to-the-euro-2017-04-21) in which Le Pen and far-left candidate Jean Luc Melenchon -- both euroskeptics -- would come out on top in Sunday's ballot, with one of them emerging as France's next president after the second round on May 7. However, with almost all the votes counted, Macron had won 23.9% of the vote and Le Pen was second with 21.4%, followed by Melenchon and conservative candidate François Fillon at just shy of 20% each.

The euro jumped to an intraday high of $1.0901, up from $1.0727 late Friday in New York. That was the highest trading level for the shared currency since November, according to FactSet data. In early European trade, the shared currency had slipped back to $1.0856.

Read:Macron scores a huge win for the center in Europe (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/macron-scores-a-huge-win-for-the-center-in-europe-2017-04-23)

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"The market nightmare scenario has been averted with Macron set to face off against Le Pen in the second round," said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, in a note.

"With pollsters and analysts giving the [Le Pen] virtually no chance in the second round against Macron, those really big worries that many had coming into this election -- the risk of 'Frexit' and a breakup of the eurozone -- have definitely subsided. But they have not vanished," he added.

Front National leader Le Pen had vowed to put France's eurozone and EU membership up for a referendum, fueling concerns of a so-called Frexit.

Read:4 things investors need to know about France's presidential runoff (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/4-things-investors-need-to-know-about-frances-presidential-runoff-2017-04-23)

In other currencies, the ICE Dollar Index slid 0.9% to 99.06, pressured by the stronger euro.

The greenback rose against the yen, buying Yen110.11, up from Yen109.07 late Friday in New York.

The pound bought $1.2815 compared with $1.2812 on Friday.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 24, 2017 04:03 ET (08:03 GMT)