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France, markets on election alert

Thursday, April 20, 2017 - 01:47

With just four days to go, investors are bracing for the first round of the presidential election in France. With just a few points separating the top four candidates, including two who oppose the euro, Paris bankers and brokers will be on call, ready to scoot to the office as results of the first round start to dribble in this Sunday night. David Pollard reports.

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Few people in France know who'll emerge as victor in the presidential election. But this is one of them. (SOUNDBITE) (French) CLAIRVOYANT, CATHERINE CAVAYA, SAYING: "For me, it's Monsieur Macron who will win." Clairvoyant Catherine also seeing second place for Marine Le Pen and a big bounce for the Conservatives' Francois Fillon. For markets, there's no crystal ball - just the polls. Which see centrist Emmanuel Macron's slim lead at risk. SOUNDBITE (English) CHIEF ECONOMIST, WORLD FIRST, JEREMY COOK, SAYING: "The pick-up in the polls for Jean-Luc Melenchon, the far-left candidate, have got markets a little bit more nervous. The latest polling suggest that we're basically within a polling error of Marine Le Pen not making the second round, or Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon, the far left and the far right of French politics, making the second round." A scenario that's likely to keep markets awake at night. Quite literally: traders and analysts at some of the world's biggest investment firms primed for pre-dawn starts. One asset manager will even have a special task force in place. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC PARTNERS MARKET STRATEGIST, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "If you look at things like where the bookies are placing their money and the bets that are being made in the market in terms of buying downside protection on risk assets, on equities, on the euro, markets are actually very much more worried than they would like to admit." And that's long before the final result becomes visible. The second round vote next month seen likely to push the euro close to a 15-year low if the anti-euro Marine Le Pen wins. Catherine rules that out: she says her psychic certainties come from a method called 'automatic writing' - her subconscious dictating the words, not her brain. On an election which for others just gets harder to read.

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France, markets on election alert

Thursday, April 20, 2017 - 01:47