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US stocks mixed as euro slips before French vote

Apr 21 2017 16:16
Bloomberg:V. Ramakrishnan

London - US stocks and the dollar were little changed as markets struck a cautious tone ahead France’s presidential election. The nation’s bonds and the euro slipped before Sunday’s vote that puts the future of the common currency in play.

The S&P 500 Index was little changed after a spate of corporate earnings left it on track for the best week since February. European equities swung between gains and losses, while the euro churned in its weekly range.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell for a second week, weighed down by President Donald Trump’s characterisation this month of the US currency as too strong. Crude held near $50.60 a barrel, while gold edged toward $1 285 an ounce.

Investors have been grappling with a spate of geopolitical risk events, with the murder of a policeman on the Champs-Elysees adding to uncertainty before France’s vote. President Donald Trump has increased protectionist rhetoric in recent days, while his Treasury secretary signaled that tax reform remains a priority.

“The need to hedge the downside risks on the euro without capping the upside potential, has mostly pushed investors toward the currency options through the week,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a market analyst at London Capital, wrote in a note. Heightened stock volatility has been spurred by investors’ need to protect against political risk into and following the first round, she said.

Here are some events that investors will be watching:

The first round of voting in the French election is on Sunday, and the two leading candidates will run off in a winner-takes-all contest on May 7. Currency desks are gearing up for the event, with memories still fresh from last year’s Brexit vote and US presidential election.

US Markit manufacturing PMI and Markit services PMI for April will be gleaned for clues about economic growth and outlook The annual Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund bring government officials, central bankers, journalists, academia and the private sector to Washington for briefings on the global economy and international development.

Here are the main markets moves:

Stocks

The S&P 500 was little changed at 2 355.01 as of 14:31. The measure is headed for a weekly gain of 1.1%, the most since February 17. Visa led advances in the Dow Jones Industrial Average after reporting earnings. Honeywell International rose the most in the S&P 500 on its results. The Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.1%, while miners posted the biggest advance of 1.1%.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed and is poised for a weekly decline of 0.2%. The euro weakened 0.2% to $1.0698. Sterling also fell 0.2% to $1.2787.

Bonds

French 10-year yields were little changed at 0.93%. Bunds gained, with the yield on the benchmark due in a decade one basis point lower at 0.24%. Treasury yields were little changed at 2.23%.

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate little changed at $50.73 a barrel. Gold fluctuated before little changed at $1282.40 per ounceIron ore futures climbed 5.1%.

Asia

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index increased 0.7%. The gauge is up 0.5% for the week, after four straight weeks of declines. Japan’s Topix capped its best week since early February after BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said he will keep accommodative policy in place.

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equities  |  wall street  |  markets

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