Tokyo Stock Exchange
TOKYO: The euro briefly rallied to a six-month high against the dollar Monday after pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the French presidential election eased concerns about the country’s future in the eurozone.
The single currency touched $1.1023, its highest level since November and up from $1.0998 on Friday after the 39-year-old former investment banker beat far-right rival Marine Le Pen.
The currency also hit a one-year high of 124.59 yen from 124.05 yen on Friday.
But the gains were short-lived and modest compared with the reaction following Macron’s first-round victory last month with markets largely pricing in the result.
The vote effectively eliminates any risk of France leaving the single currency bloc — a departure advocated by the eurosceptic Le Pen.
“It’s probably a more measured response than I would have expected,” Imre Speizer, senior markets strategist at Westpac NZ, told AFP.
“It’s the expected outcome. It’s more emphatic than expected but there’s no surprise element for the market in Macron winning.”
The euro’s brief rally was exaggerated by thin trading in early Asian dealing, said Yukio Ishizuki, senior currency strategist at Daiwa Securities.
“As more players return to the market, the euro will come off a bit as they sell it to lock in profits,” he said.
“But I don’t expect the euro to face serious selling.
“With a solid bottom, the euro could weather profit-taking and start picking up again.”
– ‘Sigh of relief’ –
Elias Haddad, a currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said: “The diminishing eurozone political uncertainty is going to be a key theme right now, that is going to be fairly supportive of risk sentiment in the eurozone.”
Markets were breathing “a collective sigh of relief” at the result, said Phil Borkin, senior economist at ANZ Bank.
But there are still concerns over whether Macron, an independent, will be able to push economic reforms through the National Assembly without any deputies.
“The bigger question is how much of a mandate will Macron’s party get in the parliamentary elections coming up next month,” Borkin told AFP.
“That calls into question any longevity in a rally at this stage.”
Almost definitive results showed Macron winning 66.06 percent of the vote in the first ever election he has contested, far ahead of Le Pen at 33.94 percent.
Unknown three years ago, Macron is now poised to become one of Europe’s most powerful leaders, bringing with him a hugely ambitious agenda of political and economic reform for France and the European Union.
But many observers are sceptical about his ability to win a parliamentary majority, meaning he might have to form a coalition of lawmakers committed to his agenda.
Furthermore, his economic agenda, particularly plans to weaken labour regulations to fight stubbornly high unemployment, are likely to face fierce resistance from trade unions and his leftist opponents.
He also inherits a country still under a state of emergency following a string of Islamist-inspired attacks since 2015 that have killed more than 230 people.
Le Pen, 48, had portrayed the ballot as a contest between Macron and the “globalists” — in favour of open trade, immigration and shared sovereignty — and her “patriotic” vision of strong borders and national identities. –AFP