European stocks and the euro pulled back on Monday
European stocks and the euro pulled back on Monday from highs touched after pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron’s emphatic but well-flagged victory in France’s presidential election as investors’ focus shifted from politics to monetary policy.
With the political risks that have dominated European markets in a year packed with elections seen receding, the European Central Bank is expected to have more room to tighten policy as the euro zone economic recovery gathers pace.
Wall Street looked set to open modestly lower as index futures, including those on the S&P 500, which earlier hit a record high, traded slightly down on the day.
European equities dipped, with French shares, which hit 9 1/2-year highs on Friday, underperforming the wider market.
The euro dipped against the dollar, having risen in early Asian trade to just above $1.10 when opinion polls signaled the scale of Macron’s victory over anti-euro nationalist Marine Le Pen.
It was a similar story in euro zone government debt markets: the premium investors demand to hold French rather than German benchmark 10-year bonds touched its tightest in six months as markets opened on Monday, but then gave back some of that.
“Investors will now go back to the basics of watching the underlying euro zone economic and inflation data and what implications it may have for monetary policy,” said Iain Stealey, a fixed income portfolio manager for JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) Asset Management.
Although Macron’s victory with his business-friendly vision of European integration ensured there was no repeat of the populist surges that saw Britain vote to leave the European Union and President Donald Trump elected in the United States, the result was widely expected and analysts had forecast no major market moves.
That said, world stocks, as measured by MSCI’s 46-country world index hit a record high as the main measure of Asia-Pacific shares, excluding Japan, rose 0.8 percent.
Tokyo shares, resuming trade after a three-day market holiday, closed up 2.3 percent at a 17-month high.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.2 percent in afternoon trading, while France’s CAC 40 index fell 0.5 percent.
OIL, COPPER FALL
In currency markets, the euro rose to a six-month high of $1.1024 in early Asian trade but last stood at $1.0955, down 0.4 percent on the day.
“It’s really a question now of what’s going to happen next with respect to the U.S. Federal Reserve with one rate rise priced in between now and the end of the year, and what’s the probability that the European Central Bank will look to taper monetary policy before the end of the year,” said Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets in London.
The dollar index, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of its major peers, was up 0.2 percent.
The gap between 10-year yields on French and German government bonds last stood at around 34 basis points. It rose as far as 38 bps before falling back to 35 bps.
The gap between yields in Germany and Italy, which faces an election before May 2018, stood at 180 bps.
Yields on lower-rated southern European government debt, seen most vulnerable to a reduction in the pace or scale of the ECB stimulus that has suppressed borrowing costs, rose.
“We have the potential twin evils of Italy going to the polls early next year and tapering to think about at the same time,” said Rabobank strategist Richard McGuire.
Brent futures fell 16 cents to $48.95 a barrel.
Gold, often sought as a bulwark against risk, rose 0.4 percent to $1,232 an ounce.
Copper prices fell 1.8 percent to four-month lows around $5,490 a ton as Chinese trade data showed April imports of the metal dived 30 percent from a month earlier.