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French Election Relief Sends Euro Soaring


French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron waves before addressing his supporters at his campaign headquarters in Paris, France, April 23, 2017.

European shares opened sharply higher and the euro briefly vaulted to five-month peaks on Monday after the market's favored candidate won the first round of the French election, reducing the risk of another Brexit-like shock.

The victory for pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron, who is now expected to beat right-wing rival Marine Le Pen in a deciding vote next month, sent the pan-European STOXX 50 index up 3 percent, France's CAC40 almost 4 percent and bank stocks more than 6 percent.

Traders top-sliced some of the euro's overnight gains, but it was still up more than 1 percent on the dollar, more than 2 percent against the yen and 1.3 percent on the pound as the early flurry of deals subsided.

"It (the first round result) has come out in line with the market's expectations so you have something of a risk rally as there was a bit of a risk-premium built into all markets," said James Binny, head of currency at State Street Global Advisors.

There was also an unwinding of safe-haven trades.

Shorter-term German bonds saw their biggest sell-off since the end of 2015 as investors piled back into French as well as Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Greek debt.

The Japanese yen's fall was widespread, the market's so-called fear-guage, the VIX volatility index, plunged the most since November and gold saw its biggest tumble in more than a month.

E-mini futures for Wall Street's S&P 500 climbed 0.9 percent in early trade, while yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes rose almost 8 basis points to 2.31 percent.

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