Markets reassured as Emmanuel Macron beats Marine Le Pen to top Presidential election poll

 
Jasper Jolly
FRANCE2017-VOTE-EN MARCHE
Emmanuel Macron was on the campaign trail in central France (Source: Getty)

Independent French candidate Emmanuel Macron has topped another Presidential election poll with his far-right rival Marine Le Pen set to visit Moscow on Friday.

Macron will win 26 per cent of the vote in the first round, beating Le Pen by one percentage point, according to the poll for France Televisions carried out by Harris Interactive.

Meanwhile another poll run daily by Opinionway shows Macron and Le Pen neck and neck in the first round. Both polls then show Macron, representing the En Marche party he founded, easily triumphing in the second round.

Read more: Lame duck or eurosceptic: France is in trouble whoever wins the presidency

Le Pen will visit to Russia at the personal invitation of the chair of the Russian parliament’s international relations committee, according to Tass, the Russian news agency.

The visit underlines the right-wing candidate's alignment with Russia. Le Pen has repeatedly praised its leader Vladimir Putin, in contrast to the stridently pro-EU message espoused by the centrist Macron.

The rise of Macron since the start of the year has reassured markets. The euro fell below $1.04 against the US dollar at the end of 2017, but has since risen to break through the $1.08 mark.

The spread between German and French 10-year bond yields has narrowed to 62 basis points in the last week after Macron gave a steady performance during the first televised debate between the candidates. The yield (which moves inversely to price) on debt from the two countries has widened in recent months as investors have identified diverging political fortunes.

Read more: Wary of political risk, are investor fears of a Le Pen victory overblown?

However, banks have been upbeat about the prospects for the election. According to a measure of credit risk ratings by major banks compiled by Credit Benchmark there has been little chance of a Le Pen victory.

The consensus rating given to French sovereign debt dropped one notch from AA to AA- at the start of 2016, but has seen no movement since then, implying there has been no increase in the risk of France defaulting.

Le Pen is seen as a major risk to financial stability because of her anti-euro, protectionist platform.

The National Front candidate had threatened to top the election’s first round, and is still widely expected to make the final two. However, Le Pen would face a big obstacle in winning the final run-off round in May.

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