Buoyant French economy ahead of election a boon to eurozone

Traders work at their desks in front of the German share price index DAX board at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

Data compiler IHS Markit said that its preliminary reading of its monthly purchasing manager index rose to 57.4 this month from 56.8, reaching the highest level since May 2011. France is even outperforming Germany's, the region's biggest though both economies are growing at rates not seen in six years, the firm said.

Concerns over the Sunday's first round of voting in the French Presidential election appear to be weighing on EUR/USD.

A breakdown of the survey results showed that index for France's dominant services sector rose to 57.7 from 57.5, beating expectations for 57.1.

Any reading above the boom-bust 50 points line indicates the economy is expanding. Economists had forecast the score to remain unchanged at 56.4.

The month's strong data was driven by a positive April for France, with businesses largely overlooking the uncertainty of the upcoming French election, with IHS Markit's Chief Business Economist Chris Williamson saying in a statement: "France's elections pose the highest near-term risk to the outlook, but in the lead-up to the vote the business mood has clearly been buoyant".

"Job creation also rose to the highest for nearly a decade as firms boosted operating capacity in line with buoyant demand and widespread optimism about future prospects", an IHS Markit statement said.

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Nonetheless, he added: "However, with inflows of new business picking up slightly in April and business optimism about the year ahead also brightening, there's good reason to believe that growth could revive again in coming months".

Mr Williamson said the report suggested the euro zone economy would grow by 0.7 per cent in the second quarter, compared with 0.6 per cent in the previous one.

IHS Markit Economics' composite PMI reading of Eurozone growth rose to 56.7 in April, up from 56.4 in March and the highest tally in six years.

Although no major survey sees her winning, far right and anti-European Union leader Marine Le Pen is polling strongly. The PMI had registered a reading of 52.4 in the previous month. The employment index held steady at 54.4, its highest since November 2007.

Euro-area price pressures remained elevated, with both input prices and those charged for goods and services holding close to their six-year highs.

The Japanese Yen gained ground, after overnight data revealed that Japan's flash Nikkei manufacturing PMI jumped to a two-month high level of 52.8 in April, underpinned by a stronger export performance, thus highlighting solid growth in the nation's manufacturing sector.

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