Old-guard rallies around newcomer Macron for French runoff

The Nasdaq Composite hit a record high yesterday, while the Dow and S&P 500 brushed against recent peaks as strong earnings underscored the health of corporate America.

For all the paeans to Macron's unifying vision in divided times, it is now up to French voters to decide whether to entrust him with this nuclear-armed nation in the May 7 presidential runoff.

Ms Le Pen has vowed to keep the Amiens plant open if elected, come what may.

Polls show Mr Macron defeating anti-EU, anti-euro nationalist Marine Le Pen in a run-off vote due to take place next month.

Le Pen offers an alternative for anyone skeptical of the European Union and France's role in it, said Louis Aliot, the vice president of the National Front party.

Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon, whose party holds a majority in the legislature, got just 6 percent.

Following Britain's vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump's surprise victory in the USA presidential election, the hope in the markets is that the rise of populism around the world - and the associated potential unpredictability in policymaking - may have peaked.

Le Pen, meanwhile, moved to peel away voters historically opposed to her National Front Party, long tainted by accusations of racism and anti-Semitism.

The French term she used signalled that the move to step aside would be temporary.

The National Front representative has repeatedly commented on Muslim rituals and practices in public space saying that she would impose a law with the aim of prohibiting such practices.

"Having seen the results of the French election over the weekend, investors are now taking a disaster-avoided view of markets, so all of the risk-off trades are unwinding and risk-on trades put on", said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Equity Capital Markets in NY.

Le Pen brought the anti-establishment FN party into the country's political mainstream on Sunday's first round to elect new president for the next five years.

Mr Macron - who ran under the independent En Marche!

"Marine Le Pen is coming here?"

Both candidates have publicly spoken to supporters after the vote about their plans.

She added: "He is a hysterical, radical "Europeanist".

Repeating her campaign's mantra, she says she wants "to put back France in order".

Le Pen faces centrist Emmanuel Macron in a runoff election on May 7.

A study by pollsters Ipsos of the first round results may explain why that was the case: while it found that 21 percent of 18 to 24-year-old voters backed her - largely the same as for the population as a whole - a massive 30 percent opted for her hard-left rival Melenchon.

  • Leroy Wright