Fast Europe Open: Germany PMI, UK retail sales

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The outlook for one of the most important French presidential elections in recent memory has managed to become still more opaque after Thursday night’s apparent terror attack in central Paris.

The French head to the polls on Sunday for the first round of the election, which is expected to narrow the number of candidates to two. The leading candidates are Emmanuel Macron, the 39-year-old former Rothschild banker, far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, conservative François Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who leads the anti-immigrant National Front.

The attack on Thursday night, in which one police officer was killed and two others severely injured in a shooting on the Champs-Élysées, has threatened to disrupt the final days of campaigning and added to already considerable electoral uncertainty. Markets, meanwhile, may be a bit too sanguine about the risks posed by the upcoming vote.

Asian stock markets rallied on Friday, taking their lead from Wall Street where news that President Donald Trump ordered a probe into steel imports lifted the sector. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 index is up 0.6 per cent, while Tokyo’s Topix is up 1 per cent and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng has risen 0.2 per cent.

European bourses are expected to open slightly higher, with futures forecasting the UK’s FTSE 100 will climb 0.1 per cent and Germany’s Dax to rise the same amount at the open. US index futures suggest the S&P 500 will open flat when trading gets underway later in New York.

Corporate earnings reports out today include Reckitt Benckiser, Husqvarna, Software and Saipem.

The economic calendar for Friday is mercifully compact and straightforward (all times London):

  • 08.00: Germany PMI
  • 08.30: France PMI
  • 09.30: UK retail sales
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