WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - The dollar is turning in a mixed performance Friday afternoon, but is little changed overall. Investors are exercising an abundance of caution ahead of the first round of voting in the French presidential election on Sunday. The race is currently too close to call and the result could have major ramifications on the future of the Eurozone.
Recent polls have shown the race as too close to call, with Marine Le Pen virtually tied with centrist Emmanuel Macron and Republican Francois Fillon and Communist-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon close behind. With no candidate expected to win more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will likely head to a runoff on May 7th.
It also remains to be seen what impact the most recent terror attack in Paris will have on the election result. A French police officer was killed and two others injured in a shooting on the famous Champs-Elysees.
Meanwhile, it was a light day on the U.S. economic front Friday. After reporting a bigger than expected drop in U.S. existing home sales in the previous month, the National Association of Realtors released a report on Friday showing that existing home sales rebounded to their highest level in ten years in March.
The report said existing home sales jumped 4.4 percent to an annual rate of 5.71 million in March after slumping by 3.9 percent to a downwardly revised 5.47 million February. Economists had expected existing home sales to climb by 2.2 percent to a rate of 5.60 million from the 5.48 million originally reported for the previous month.
The dollar has climbed to around $1.0695 against the Euro Friday afternoon, from an early low of $1.0737.
Eurozone private sector growth hit a fresh six-year high in April, survey results from IHS Markit showed Friday. The flash composite output index rose unexpectedly to 56.7 in April from 56.4 in March. The latest reading was the highest since April 2011. Economists had forecast the score to remain unchanged at 56.4.
The euro area current account surplus increased to a record high in February, figures from the European Central Bank showed Friday. The current account surplus surged to a seasonally adjusted EUR 37.9 billion in February from EUR 26.1 billion in January. This was the highest surplus since the formation of the currency bloc.
Germany's private sector expanded strongly in April, despite slower rises in both manufacturing output and services activity, survey data from IHS Markit showed Friday. The flash composite output index dropped to 56.3 in April from March's six-year high of 57.1.
The French private sector expanded the most in almost six years in April, survey data from IHS Markit showed Friday. The flash composite output index rose to a 71-month high of 57.4 in April from 56.8 in March.
The buck has risen to around $1.2790 against the pound sterling Friday afternoon, from a low of $1.2834 this morning.
UK retail sales declined more than expected in March, figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed Friday. Retail sales including automotive fuel decreased 1.8 percent month-on-month in March, reversing a 1.7 percent rise in February. Sales were forecast to fall moderately by 0.5 percent.
British households perceived that the value of their homes increased further in April, though the rate of growth eased fractionally, survey figures from IHS Markit and Knight Frank showed Friday. The Knight Frank/Markit House Price Sentiment Index, or HPSI, dropped to 57.4 in April from 57.5 in March.
The greenback slipped to a low of Y108.871 against the Japanese Yen Friday, but has since bounded back to around Y109.175.
The manufacturing sector in Japan continued to expand in April, the latest survey from Nikkei showed on Friday with a manufacturing PMI score of 52.8. That's up from 52.4 in March, and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.
Japan's tertiary activity index increased at a slower-than-expected pace in February, after falling in the previous two months, figures from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed Friday. The tertiary activity index rose 0.2 percent month-over-month in February, reversing a 0.2 percent drop in January. Economists had expected a 0.3 percent climb for the month.
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