Euro Charges Ahead as Macron Trounces Rivals in TV Debate

Both scores were unchanged from the last time the poll was carried out two weeks ago, even though it was carried out after the two traded barbs in a televised debate on Monday involving all the main candidates.

Former economy minister Macron, the most europhile of the candidates, noted that "all those who said Brexit will be wonderful...ran away and hid".

Macron said it was above all "a public order problem".

Ms Le Pen said she would put a near-total stop to immigration to France, claiming 200,000 "illegal immigrants" were arriving in France each year. Among her foreign policy objectives Le Pen has called for closer cooperation in Syria with President Bashar al-Assad and a rapprochement with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Mr Hamon branded her suggestion "disgusting" and said the issue of education was being hijacked by politicians to spread a certain message. She's self-assured, she knows how to try and convince voters.

Early on, the candidates clashed over the teaching of French in schools - the first subject in the TF1 debate.

"The 2017 campaign is hard to get a handle on", Pascal Perrineau, a political science professor at Sciences Po university, wrote in Le Monde at the weekend, blaming the steady drip of "scandals, real or imagined" for preventing real debate. "The [euro] declared that centrist and former investment banker, Emmanuel Macron, won this round", said FXTM chief market strategist Hussein Sayed, in a note.

USA stock futures pointed to a positive start for Wall Street, which had suffered on Monday as investors anxious that President Donald Trump's plan to cut taxes and boost the economy would take longer than expected to realize. So far he's given quite a weak performance. He's looked very serene, very calm, he's really stayed above the fray when the others have gotten into arguments.

Two other debates are scheduled before April 23, the first round of the election, but this time with all 11 candidates: on BFMTV and CNews on 4 April and on France 2 on 20 April.

Polls show Macron and Le Pen establishing a clear lead in terms of voting intentions in the first round, while Fillon, the one-time front-runner who has been damaged by a financial scandal, has slipped back. Leading opinion polls have suggested Le Pen has a slight edge over Macron, Sky News reported. "It was used before Brexit, it was used before Donald Trump's election", she said, adding that the British economy was growing faster than the European Union and had lower unemployment despite Brexit.

Le Pen, who hopes for a populism surge, later in the debate lashed out at her rival over his neither left nor right platform that was leading him to make an "empty" project.

Fillon only said that he wanted France to "stay under the protection" of the European Central Bank, thanks to which it benefits from low interest rates.

Le Pen, known for her tough stance on migration, spoke in favor of closing the nation's borders, pointing out that France must handle the issue itself, as "we can't count on Greece to deal with the flow of migrants".

  • Leroy Wright