French Vote Fuels Hopes for Growth Across Europe – By Mike Bird, Jon Sindreu and Marcus Walker April 24, 2017 7:54 p.m. ET


Emmanuel Macron’s rise as heavy favorite in race spurs investors to set aside political worries

Emmanuel Macron, at left, waved as he left his home in Paris on Monday after his victory in Sunday’s first round of the French presidential elections.

Emmanuel Macron, at left, waved as he left his home in Paris on Monday after his victory in Sunday’s first round of the French presidential elections. Photo: BENOIT TESSIER/REUTERS

The ascension of centrist Emmanuel Macron as the heavy favorite in France’s presidential race spurred investors to set aside the political worries that have long plagued European markets and to make new bets on economic growth.

Mr. Macron is now seen as the leader in May 7’s runoff against second-place finisher Marine Le Pen, whose pledge to dismantle the euro had damped prices of euro assets and the common currency itself.

The former investment banker’s good showing sent stocks and the euro sharply higher while triggering a sharp selloff in German government bonds, which investors had bought as a haven from populist politicians such as Ms. Le Pen. Mr. Macron won the first round with 24% of the vote, according to an official tally, ahead of Ms. Le Pen with 21.3%.

From Europe’s trading floors to its chancelleries, hopes are rising that the continent can emerge from nearly a decade of crises.

The euro currency zone has struggled more than any other world region to recover from the global financial crisis. It was still emerging from its long slump when a major migration wave further boosted antiestablishment politicians such as Ms. Le Pen who want to reverse Europe’s deepening integration.

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