LONDON (Reuters) – The euro surged and the yen sank on Monday after the first round of France’s presidential election turned out bang in line with opinion polls, settling currency market worries of another systemic political shock from next month’s second round.
Measures of expected volatility of the euro – driven to their highest in a year by nerves ahead of the vote – collapsed back to relatively normal levels around 8.5 percent, pointing to a fall in concern over anti-EU, anti-euro nationalist Marine Le Pen’s chances next month.
The euro itself rose by as much as 2 percent after the initial indications from voting gave victory to centrist frontrunner Emmanuel Macron, as predicted by weeks of polling.
The same polls show Macron defeating Le Pen by around 30 percentage points in two weeks time and that will allow players who have hedged – or dumped – their holdings of euro zone assets to buy back in.
But with the single currency easing back to just a 1 percent gain in Asian and early European deals, there was uncertainty about whether it would rise further with the arrival of U.S. fund investors later in the day.
“If you are a Japanese former holder of French sovereign debt, you probably can’t just buy it all back straight away, it may be people will wait until the second round,” said Richard Benson, co-head of portfolio investment with currency fund Millennium Global in London.
“I’d like to think the euro might go up another 1 percent or so. $1.10 looks very important for euro. 112 (yen) for dollar yen. The question is are there hedges that have to get covered then the euro might still rise a bit more.”
By 0819 GMT, just over 12 hours after the end of voting in France, the euro had gained 1.04 percent from Friday’s close in New York to trade at $1.0837. <eur=ebs> It gained 1.2 percent against sterling to 84.37 pence. (EURGBP=)
As markets globally were comforted by the results of the vote, the flood of money out of the perceived security of the yen were more marked. The Japanese currency fell 2 percent against the euro and by more than 1 percent against the dollar at a time when most other major non-euro currency pairs were trading flat.
It steadied at around 110.08 yen per dollar, 0.9 percent down on the day.
“Overall, the probability of a Le Pen presidency has decreased but is not yet null,” Deutsche Bank (DE:DBKGn) economists said in a special note to clients.
“The risks of a possible new scandal, strong debate performance by the National Front leader or complacency from the electorate should still be monitored.”
For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets