European stocks up, US stocks at records ahead of French vote


NEW YORK, May 6, 2017 (AFP) – Wall Street stocks rallied to fresh records Friday following a solid US jobs report, while European equities gained ahead of the final round of the French presidential election.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq each gained 0.4 percent to finish at fresh records. Besides the jobs report, stocks were boosted by a bounce in oil prices.

After a slow March, when hiring likely was held down by a winter storm, the US economic engine added an estimated 211,000 net new positions in April while the jobless rate fell a tenth to 4.4 percent, the lowest since May 2007, the Labor Department reported.

Analysts said the report further strengthens prospects the Federal Reserve will stick to a planned course of two more interest rate hikes in 2017.

“Today’s employment report should have brushed aside any concerns about the health of the US labor market that may have come up after the disappointing payroll number last month,” said UniCredit analyst Harm Bandholz.

European equities also had a good day, with Paris climbing 1.1 percent, Frankfurt 0.6 percent and London 0.7 percent.

In France, centrist Emmanuel Macron sought to cement his frontrunner status on the last day of campaigning for the weekend’s election run-off after a bruising and divisive race.

At the end of a battle that has increased in intensity in the final days, Macron appears to be gaining momentum according to new polls which showed him winning around 62 percent to 38 percent if Sunday’s vote were held today.

The euro also took heart from the polls showing a clear Macron edge.

“Fading political uncertainty in France should keep the euro generally well supported,” said Omer Esiner, analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange

On the corporate front, British publisher Pearson sent its share price rocketing after the group launched a new cost-cutting plan and put its US schoolbooks division up for sale. Shares jumped 12.9 percent.

Pearson, which has issued a series of profit warnings in recent years, will seek to slash costs by œ300 million ($387 million, 354 million euros) on an annualized basis by the end of 2019.

But IBM tumbled 2.5 percent after billionaire investor Warren Buffett revealed he has sold about a third of his stake and “revalued” downward the computing giant.

– Key figures around 2100 GMT –

New York – Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 21,006.94 (close)
New York – S&P 500: UP 0.4 percent at 2,399.29 (close)
New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.7 percent at 6,100.76 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.7 percent at 7,297.43 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.6 percent at 12,716.89 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: UP 1.1 percent at 5,432.40 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.9 percent at 3,658.79 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.8 percent at 24,476.35 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.8 percent at 3,103.04 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: Closed for holiday
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0997 from $1.0984
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2980 from $1.2922
Dollar/yen: UP at 112.80 yen from 112.56 yen

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 72 cents at $49.10 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 70 cents at $46.22