Euro falls as French election scares markets
The increasingly unpredictable French presidential election race unnerved European financial markets yesterday, tipping the euro towards its biggest fall this year and driving investors away from French government bonds.
European corporate earnings offered investors some cheer - even though oil giant BP missed estimates - helping to steer US futures into positive territory. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite hit record levels when they opened yesterday.
"It is clear the euro is vulnerable to political uncertainty," Rabobank analysts said yesterday.
"Although opinion polls suggest that (far-right National Front leader Marine) Le Pen will not win the second round of the French presidential election in May, polls have wrongly picked the winners of both socialist and republican primaries," they added.
Le Pen has vowed to fight globalisation and take France out of the eurozone.
Ireland's ISEQ Overall Index was 0.75pc lower at 6,200.20.
Some of the main action in Irish firms took place in the UK, however. Shares in diversified group DCC rose more than 6pc at one stage to £68.15 in London after announcing that it will buy a network of petrol stations in Norway from Esso for €273m. It also issued a strong trading update.
Shares in UDG Healthcare rose almost 2pc during the session to £6.62. It also said in an update that trading is strong. It also announced that ex-CRH boss Myles Lee is joining the board.
Bank of Ireland shares fell 3.2pc to 24 cents. Ryanair fell 1.5pc to €14.00.
The UK's FTSE-100 edged 0.4pc higher. France's CAC-40 was down 0.3pc. Germany's DAX rose 0.57pc.