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BLBG: French Bonds Erase Gains as Vote Jitters Sap Euro: Markets Wrap
Tight France race leaves investors grasping for direction
Political risk reflected by elevated stocks volatility

French bonds relinquished early gains and the euro weakened before the nation goes to the first round of voting that puts the future of the common currency at play.

With hours to go to a decision that will narrow the field of front-runners, stock volatility scaled its highest level in nine months while European equities swung between gains and losses. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell for a second week, weighed down by President Donald Trump’s characterization this month of the U.S. currency as too strong. U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher opening.

Even as anti-euro Marine Le Pen has fallen behind centrist Emmanuel Macron in recent polls, investors are bracing for a period of uncertainty until a victor emerges on May 7. The murder of a policeman on the Champs-Elysees forced an early end to campaigning ahead of Sunday’s vote in France. Rising political risk prompted investors to seek protection from volatility.

“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 Group Ltd., 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.

Read our Markets Live blog here.

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 U.S. presidential election.
U.S. Markit manufacturing PMI and Markit services PMI for April will be gleaned for clues about economic growth and outlook
U.S. technology and power and manufacturing companies General Electric Co. and Honeywell International Inc. announce results.
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:


Futures on the S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent as of 8:09 a.m. in New York. The underlying gauge rose 0.8 percent Thursday, with American Express surging nearly 6 percent to pace gains in the financial group after its results topped estimates.
The Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.2 percent, while miners posted the biggest advance of 1.1 percent.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed and is poised for a weekly decline of 0.2 percent.
The euro weakened 0.2 percent to $1.0696. Sterling also fell 0.3 percent to $1.2772.

French 10-year yields were little changed at 0.93 percent. Bunds gained, with the yield on the benchmark due in a decade one basis point lower at 0.24 percent.
U.S. government debt fell, as the yield on the 10-year note was little changed at 2.23 percent.

West Texas Intermediate fell 0.2 percent to $50.62 a barrel. Gold was little changed.
Iron ore futures climbed 5.1 percent.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index increased 0.7 percent. The gauge is up 0.5 percent 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.