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Euro jumps to 5½-month high after exit polls show Macron and Le Pen in French election runoff

  • Macron and Marine Le Pen will face off in final round on May 7.
  • Macron gains 23.7 percent of vote, Le Pen on 21.7 percent.
  • Euro hits five-and-a-half month high against the dollar.

The euro reached a five-and-a-half month high against the dollar when markets opened Sunday evening as exit polls in the French presidential election indicated a victory for centrist Macron.

The single currency jumped to $1.09395 in early trade after having closed at $1.0723, according to Reuters data. This was a 2 percent jump on the day.

This comes after exit polls showed the independent candidate Emmanuel Macron gathered most of the votes in the first round of the French election. The same polls indicated that far-right candidate Marine Le Pen placed second in the first vote and both will dispute the presidency on May 7, when the runoff vote takes place.

Founder and Leader of the political movement 'En Marche !' and presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron leaves his home on the day of voting for the first round of the French Presidential Election on April 23, 2017 in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, France.
Vincent Isore | IP3 | Getty Images
Founder and Leader of the political movement 'En Marche !' and presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron leaves his home on the day of voting for the first round of the French Presidential Election on April 23, 2017 in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, France.

"The safe-haven bid should leave the U.S. Treasury market stabilizing the top side in EUR/USD. As credit risk fades in the euro zone, it should attract increased flows in its cheaper equity market giving EUR/USD some support." Sebastien Galy, director of forex strategy at Deutsche Bank, said in an email.

Macron, who could become the youngest ever president in French history, is known for his pro-European stance. Investors are confident that he will easily win against Le Pen in the second round, Reuters reported.

"With Mr Melenchon (the far-left candidate) likely ruled out from the 2nd round of the presidential election, the market's concerns of a run-off between him and Ms. Le Pen have rapidly dissipated. Moreover, with most polls taken this month indicating a victory for Mr Macron in a straight race against Ms Le Pen, it's likely that markets will open with a very positive tone," Simon Derrick, chief markets strategist at BNY Mellon, said in an email.

He added that as a result one should expect a narrowing in French/German spreads and it is "reasonable" to expect EUR/USD at 1.09/1.10.

The euro also climbed by 1.5 percent against sterling to 85 pence, Reuters added.