- French Race Up for Grabs Days Before Voters Cast First Ballots. France’s presidential race enters its final stretch with no clear winner in sight as the main contenders scrap for votes in a flurry of campaign rallies. “Everyone is petrified,” said Edouard Lecerf, head of the political department at polling firm Kantar Sofres. “The challenge for each of the four candidates is to seek new votes without alienating their base. French voters are like fish, like eels -- very slippery.” With almost a third of the electorate still undecided, and the front-runners clustered around 20 percent in the polls for the first round on April 23, the race is the most unpredictable the country has seen in recent history. With two of the four candidates also hostile to the institutions of the European Union, the result of the runoff two weeks later will have far-reaching implications not just for France but for the region as a whole.
- Tech Stocks in Malaysia Hit 10-Year High, Buoyed by Chip Boom. As growth in semiconductor usage underpins a 38 percent surge in Malaysian technology stocks, companies like Vitrox Corp. are expanding. The manufacturer of inspection machines for the semiconductor industry is building a 120 million ringgit ($27.2 million) factory, quadrupling its output as Managing Director Chu Jenn Weng predicts another record year for earnings.
- Asian Stocks Climb While Yen Slips as Risks Fade. Asian equities gained after U.S. stocks rose the most in six weeks, while the yen weakened as geopolitical threats eased and American economic data damped the odds for a Federal Reserve rate hike in June. Japanese and South Korean stocks rose for a second day, while Australian shares slid as the market reopened after the Easter holiday. Bloomberg’s dollar index strengthened after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Financial Times the greenback’s strength is “a good thing.” The yield on 10-year Treasuries continued to edge higher from a November low. Gold declined for a third day. The yen declined 0.3 percent to 109.21 per dollar as of 9:16 a.m. in Tokyo. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index added less than 0.1 percent after falling 0.2 percent Monday to the lowest closing level since March 27. Japan’s Topix advanced 1 percent, after a 0.5 percent increase on Monday. South Korea’s Kospi also gained for a second day, adding 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.5 percent and New Zealand’s benchmark climbed 0.2 percent.
- Exxon(XOM), Shell Join Ivanka Trump to Defend Paris Climate Pact. (video) As President Donald Trump contemplates whether to make good on his campaign promise to yank the United States out of the Paris climate accord, an unlikely lobbying force is hoping to talk him out of it: oil and coal producers. A pro-Paris bloc within the administration has recruited energy companies to lend their support ahead of a high-level White House meeting on the subject taking place as soon as Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the effort who asked not to be identified.
Wall Street Journal:
- U.S. Turns Up Heat on North Korea. In visit to demilitarized zone, Pence calls U.S. alliance with South Korea ironclad.
- In Afghanistan, Battle With ISIS Grinds On After Big Bomb. U.S. dropped ‘Mother of All Bombs’ as part of offensive to dislodge militants from stronghold.
Earnings of Note
8:30 am EST
- Asian equity indices are -.25% to +.5% on average.
- Asia Ex-Japan Investment Grade CDS Index 101.25 unch.
- Asia Pacific Sovereign CDS Index 23.75 +.25 basis point.
- Bloomberg Emerging Markets Currency Index 72.18 -.04%.
- S&P 500 futures unch.
- NASDAQ 100 futures +.1%.
Earnings of Note
8:30 am EST
- Housing Starts for March are estimated to fall to 1250K versus 1288K in February.
- Building Permits for March are estimated to rise to 1250K versus 1213K in February
- Industrial Production MoM for March is estimated to rise +.4% versus unch. in February.
- Capacity Utilization for March is estimated to rise to 76.2% versus 75.4% in February.
- Manufacturing Production for March is estimated unch. versus a +.5% gain in February.
- (HEI) 5-for-4
- The Fed's George speaking, China March Property Price report and the US weekly retail sales report could also impact trading today.