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Europe: Stocks climb after French presidential debate

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[NEW YORK] European stock markets rose on Thursday as French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron was viewed as the winner of a crunch election debate ahead of Sunday's run-off vote.

US stocks finished little changed ahead of Friday's closely-watched jobs report for April.

The French market outperformed its European counterparts, with the Paris CAC 40 fizzing 1.4 per cent higher to reach levels not seen since 2008, as traders digested Wednesday night's debate between Mr Macron and the far-right Marine Le Pen.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 meanwhile climbed 1.0 per cent to a new record close, ending the first time above 12,600 points at 12,647.78.

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A drop in oil and metals prices penalised London's benchmark FTSE 100 index, which closed with a gain of 0.2 per cent.

"European assets are in high demand... with the euro moving back above US$1.09 and the DAX at an all-time high, as Emmanuel Macron was deemed to have trounced his rival in last night's debate," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG traders.

The centrist Macron and anti-EU Le Pen clashed over terrorism, the economy and Europe in a bad-tempered TV debate that laid bare their profoundly different visions for the country.

The duel ahead of Sunday's election was billed as a confrontation between Macron's call for openness and pro-market reforms and Le Pen's France-first nationalism.

"It's been a day of fairly decent earnings updates, though it has been helped by the failure of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen to lay a glove on Emmanuel Macron in last night's final presidential debate, ahead of this weekend's final vote," said analyst Michael Hewson at CMC Markets.

TRUMP GETS WIN

In the US, analysts said investors were heartened by a narrow vote by the House of Representatives in favour of Trump's plan for dismantling much of Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

But the vote had little effect on stocks because passage had been expected and the proposal faces a long road to passage in the divided Senate.

Health care reform is "important," but "they've still got to grind through the next step," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

Meanwhile, the oil prices slumped to the lowest levels since Opec and Russia agreed in November to cut back production in a bid to raise prices.

"We just keep falling and trying to find a bottom," said Gene McGillian of Tradition Energy. In spite the agreement to limit output, "we have not seen a significant improvement of global inventories," Mr McGillian said.

On the corporate front, shares in HSBC topped the FTSE 100 leader board, jumping 2.9 per cent after the banking titan posted a rise in pre-tax profits, excluding one-off charges.

In Frankfurt, Adidas climbed 0.8 per cent as the German sporting goods maker voiced confidence over meeting its objectives for the year, after a huge leap in quarterly profits.

In the US, Tesla Motors lost 5.0 per cent as it reported a net loss of US$330 million in the first quarter, far wider than the US$121 million deficit a year earlier.

AFP

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