Berliner Tageblatt - French stocks drag down European markets on vote fears

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French stocks drag down European markets on vote fears
French stocks drag down European markets on vote fears / Photo: © AFP/File

French stocks drag down European markets on vote fears

The Paris stock exchange plunged to its worst weekly performance in more than two years on Friday, dragging down other European markets and the euro as investors fret over France's looming snap election.

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Across the Atlantic, Wall Street's broad-based S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq were also down after hitting record highs as investors weighed the prospect of only one interest-rate cut by the Federal Reserve this year and data showing cooling inflation.

"The French political jitters sent the European shares to a slippery slope this week," Swissquote bank analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya told AFP.

"Some investors probably feel safer by closing their positions into what could be another chaotic weekend," she said, adding that the Wall Street selloff appeared to be a "correction of the week's rally".

The French capital's benchmark CAC 40 stocks index fell more than three percent at one point before closing 2.7 percent lower on Friday.

It was down 6.2 percent for the week, its worst performance since March 2022 in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Milan stock exchange fell 2.8 percent, while the Frankfurt DAX finished 1.4 percent in the red. Outside the eurozone, London's FTSE 100 fell 0.2 percent.

European markets have been rattled by French President Emmanuel Macron's stunning decision Sunday to call legislative elections after his centrist alliance was trounced by Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally in European Parliament elections.

Macron's gambit has sparked a period of political uncertainty in the European Union's second-biggest economy and across the bloc, where voting saw a shift away from the centre.

Leading French left-wing politician Raphael Glucksmann on Friday threw his weight behind a new coalition of the left in the run-up to the historic elections.

Le Pen pledged a national unity government if her party wins the polls, which will open on June 30, with the second round on July 7.

"A hectic week comes to an end in Europe, but this is certainly the first in a series of volatile weeks until the French election -- where the only certainty is uncertainty both for France and for the EU," Ozkardeskaya said.

The euro fell 0.4 percent against the dollar to $1.0697.

"It is all about the situation in France," Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at City Index and Forex.com, told AFP.

"The euro took a tumble amid ongoing political turmoil in France, something which also hurt European indices and undermined other risk-sensitive currencies," he said.

In another sign of investors' concerns about the snap election, the yield, or interest, on 10-year French sovereign bonds rose and the difference with Germany's own borrowing costs widened the most in years.

"Soaring borrowing costs are already hitting the French government, as the perceived risk attached to a potential victory for the far right pushed the cost of sovereign debt higher," warned Shore Markets analyst Joshua Mahony.

In Asia on Friday, the yen dropped against the dollar and Japanese shares rose after the Bank of Japan said it would trim its vast hoard of government bonds as part of a cautious move away from its long-running ultra-loose monetary policy.

The central bank also kept interest rates unchanged after a two-day meeting.

- Key figures around 1555 GMT -

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 2.7 percent at 7,503.27 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 1.4 percent at 18,002.02 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 2.0 percent at 4,839.14 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 8,146.86 (close)

New York - Dow Jones: DOWN 0.4 percent at 38,503.88

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.4 percent at 5,413.50

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.3 percent at 17,618.18

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 38,814.56 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.9 percent at 17,941.78 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,032.63 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0697 from $1.0746 on Thursday

Euro/pound: UP at 84.33 pence from 84.15 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 157.29 yen from 157.03 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2686 from $1.2766

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.4 percent at $78.32 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: DOWN 0.3 percent at $82.53 per barrel

burs-lth/imm

N.Fournier--BTB