France votes this weekend
Sterling started the day off well, holding gains versus the broadly weaker Dollar yesterday, with bullish polls for Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives raising expectations that the June election will give her a stronger mandate for Brexit talks.
Investors seem to be judging that a stronger Parliamentary mandate for May could give her a better chance of making the major compromises with the European Union necessary to ensure Britain’s smooth exit from the bloc, and cap any damage to the UK economy.
In the afternoon, the Pound ebbed versus the Dollar but retained gains from the previous day versus the Euro as election jitters in France start to take their toll on a nervous market and the single currency.
Risk appetite strengthened in US trading with fresh reports that the Republicans could make another attempt at passing healthcare reform next week, and US equities moved higher which curbed Yen support. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated that the tax reform proposals would be unveiled soon and that the measures would be passed before the end of 2017.
US jobless claims increased to 244,000 in the latest week from 234,000 previously, and slightly above consensus expectations, although this still indicates a robust labour market. Continuing claims also declined to the lowest level for 17 years which suggests that workers are finding it easier to re-enter the labour market.
The Euro held steady below a three-week high against the Dollar yesterday and lost ground versus the Pound. This comes as investors await the weekend’s first round of voting in France’s presidential election.
The Euro was flat on the day after having risen Wednesday against the greenback to its strongest since late March. Security concerns have taken centre stage in the run-up to Sunday’s vote after a French policeman was shot dead and two others were wounded in central Paris last night in an attack claimed by the Islamic State militant group.
The polls have suggested that the likely outcome of Sunday’s first round of voting is centrist Emmanuel Macron, and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen – who wants to take France out of the European Union – to get past the first round of voting and to the second round on 7th May. This could have a large impact on the single currency.
Data to Watch:
8:30am EUR GER Markit PMI Composite (Apr), Markit Services PMI (Apr), Markit Manufacturing PMI (Apr). 9:00am EUR Markit Services PMI (Apr), Markit Manufacturing PMI (Apr), Markit PMI Composite (Apr). 2:30pm USD FOMC Member Kaskari Speech. 2:45pm USD Markit Manufacturing PMI (Apr), Markit Services PMI (Apr), Markit PMI Composite (Apr). 6:00pm USD Baker Hughes US Oil Rig Count.