ETF Securities Research Blog

Frexit less likely but domestic challenges

Market’s participants welcomed the lead of Macron in the first round of the French presidential elections. The euro jumped 1.3% and French equities are up 4% led by French banks. We believe the excessively high OAT-Bund yield spreads will continue to tighten gradually as we get closer to the second round of the presidential elections and the Parliamentary elections.

As predicted by the recent opinion polls, Macron (Centrist) and Le Pen (Far-right) won the first round with Macron ahead. The election boasts a participation rate estimated at around 77%. Macron won with almost 23.8% of the votes while Le Pen gathered 21.5%. Fillon and the Republicans were defeated with 19.9%, while far-left Mélanchon lost with 19.6%. The centrist Macron gathered 23.8%, while the Right/Far right together gathered 47.4% and the Left/Far left gathered 27.6% as of Sunday 23 April.  Despite the fact that the majority of the votes went to the right-wing parties, Republicans’ leaders have already called to vote for Macron at the second round as did President Holland leading the Socialist party, increasing the chance for Macron to win the election. The probability of Macron winning the elections now stands at 62% according to the latest polls. According to Ipsos, 48% of Fillon’s voters will vote for Macron in the second round as well as 62% of Melanchon’s voters and 79% of Socialist Hamon’s voters. Only a minority of far-Left Melanchon’s voters (9%) – sensible to the protectionist economic programme of the far-Right – indicated to switch their votes to Le Pen’s, and only 33% of voters of Fillon – sensible to the security programme of the far-Right – are likely to vote for Le Pen in the second round.

Market’s participants welcomed the news. The French OAT- German Bund yield spreads tighten by 16bps as market’s pricing as Macron winning the elections looks likely with many French political leaders now supporting him in an effort to block the Far-right Le Pen. The euro jumped by 1.26% this morning against the US dollar to 1.0863 and French CAC stocks gained 4% and French banks climbed by 8% in average in the early session, while defensive assets dropped. Gold price declined 1% to US$1271 this morning, while 10-yr Treasury yields rose from 14bps to 2.3%.

After the second round of the presidential elections, the next decisive step for France will be to elect the Parliament in a month and a half from now. While it is almost certain that Marine Le Pen will not get a majority, it is still unclear how Macron will without the help of both the Socialist and Republicans groups. The uncertainty around the ability of Macron to gain a majority of seats in the Parliament to pass on his reforms will likely continue to weigh on the French-German government bond spreads in the next six weeks.