Euro, shares rally on relief as Macron wins French presidency

50-euroTOKYO: The euro firmed and U.S. stock futures hit a record high on Monday after centrist Emmanuel Macron comfortably won the French presidential election.

The euro rose to as high as $1.1024, its highest in about six months, before stepping back to $1.0998, flat from late U.S. levels last week.

The common currency hit a one-year high of 124.58 yen and a five-month high of 1.08865 Swiss franc.

“Emmanuel Macron’s victory gives markets a much-deserved breather from European politics,” said Bill Street, head of investments for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at State Street Global Advisors in London.

“This result, combined with last week’s preliminary Greek debt agreement, will be enough to support a short-term relief rally. Looking forward, Macron only offers upside surprises.”

The S&P 500 mini futures ESc1 gained 0.2 percent to hit a record high of 2,403.75 in early trade before giving up the gains to trade flat.

The Nikkei futures pointed to a rise of 1.4 percent in the Nikkei average to 1 1/2-year high when Japanese stock market reopen at 9:00 a.m after five-day Golden Week holidays.

“Political risk in Europe has been considered as a major market theme this year. But in the Netherlands (anti-EU party leader Geert) Wilders lost in March. The French election is now out of the way,” said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

“And in Germany the ruling Christian Democrats are recovering. The political risks in Europe have receded,” he said.

Pollsters’ projections gave Macron a winning margin of around 65 percent to 35 – a gap wider than the 20 or so percentage points that pre-election surveys had suggested.

The centrist’s emphatic victory brought comfort to investors and European allies alike, who had been nervous of the risk of another populist upheaval to follow Britain’s vote to quit the EU and Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president – neither of which had been predicted by pollsters or bookmakers.

Still, the euro’s rise was slight compared with its 2 percent surge after the first-round results on April 23, when polls had been much tighter, when there had been fears that French voters would be left with a choice between two euroskeptic, radical candidates.

Stock markets had a welcome surprise on Friday from solid U.S. employment numbers. Nonfarm payrolls surged by 211,000 last month after a paltry gain of 79,000 in March, and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.4 percent, near a 10-year low and well below the most recent Federal Reserve median forecast for full employment..

The hiring rebound supports the U.S. central bank’s contention that the pedestrian 0.7 percent annualized economic growth in the first quarter was likely “transitory,” and its optimism that economic activity would expand at a “moderate” pace.

U.S. 10-year Treasury futures dipped on Monday suggesting the 10-year Treasury yield could tick higher from its closing level last week of around 2.35 percent.

Crude oil prices extended their rebound from Friday’s five-month lows, as investors bet key producers could extend output cuts beyond an agreed June cut-off.

Saudi Arabia’s OPEC governor said on Friday there was an emerging consensus among member and non-member countries on the need to extend the output-control agreement beyond June to help clear the supply glut.

Brent futures traded at $49.54 per barrel LCOc1, up 44 cents or 0.9 percent.