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French presidential debate lifts euro to six-week highs


MAR 21, (DNA) -The euro climbed to six-week highs and French bonds and stocks rallied on Tuesday after centrist Emmanuel Macron’s performance in a television debate raised expectations he would win France’s presidential election over the far-right’s Marine Le Pen.

The dollar was also held back by doubts about how fast U.S. interest rate would rise. Oil prices rallied almost 1 percent on talk that OPEC could extend supply cuts.

European stock markets opened higher .FTEU3, after a rally in Asia, where MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS hit 21-month highs, supported by signs of strong global economic growth.

U.S. stock futures ESc1 1YMc1 pointed to a positive start for Wall Street, which had suffered on Monday as investors worried that President Donald Trump’s plan to cut taxes and boost the economy would take longer than expected to realize.

France’s turbulent presidential campaign remained in focus for global investors, who have been concerned about the potential for a populist backlash following last year’s surprise votes for Brexit in Britain and for Trump in the United States.

A snap opinion poll that followed Monday’s televised debate showed Macron, a former economy minister who has never run for public office before, was seen as the most convincing among the top five contenders in a marathon debate.

The debate, and two others that will follow before the April 23 first round, are considered crucial in an election in which nearly 40 percent of voters say they are not sure who to back.

“From the point of view of international investors, this is a positive as it keeps France’s position in the euro zone secure, or at least not weaker,” said DZ Bank analyst Rene Albrecht.

Macron’s presidential bid gathered pace on Tuesday after a junior minister said she would back his campaign, becoming the first member of the government to do so.

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