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Global stocks rally after French vote

Trader Sal Suarino, foreground, works on the floor

Trader Sal Suarino, foreground, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, April 17, 2017.  Credit: AP / Richard Drew

Vive le rally.

U.S. stocks joined a worldwide surge higher Monday after the first round of France’s presidential election raised expectations that the European Union will hold together. A candidate seen as pro-business won the most votes Sunday, and many investors expect him to win a runoff against the remaining anti-EU candidate, which is set for May 7.

Prices for gold, Treasurys and other investments that signal fear in the market all sank.

“It’s good news, and now investors have a reason to focus on the fundamentals in Europe, which are strong,” said Luca Paolini, chief strategist at Pictet Asset Management, a U.K.-based firm that manages $165 billion in client assets.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index jumped 25.46 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,374.15. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 216.13, or 1.1 percent, to 20,763.89, and the Nasdaq composite gained 73.30, or 1.2 percent, to 5,983.82.

Coming into Sunday’s election in France, several candidates railed against the European Union, one of the world’s dominant trading partners. A victory for one of those candidates would have followed the path set by last year’s “Brexit” vote by Britain to exit the European Union and the U.S. election of President Donald Trump as a kick in the face to the globalist, free-trade worldview.

Emmanuel Macron, a candidate investors see as pro-business, ended up winning the most votes. He will face Marine Le Pen in a runoff election in two weeks. Le Pen is one of the candidates who campaigned against the European Union, but many investors expect Macron ultimately to be victorious.

“It’s not only France” where the forces of populism seem to be waning, said Paolini. He pointed to the Dutch elections last month, where a candidate who ran on the pledge to pull the Netherlands from the European Union, lost.

“This surge is fading,” Paolini said. “Maybe it’s too early too early to celebrate, but that’s what the market is pricing in.”

Prices for Treasury bonds dropped, which sent yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury climbed to 2.27 percent from 2.25 percent late Friday.

Rising bond yields boosted bank stocks, because higher rates mean banks can charge more for loans.

Strong earnings reports also helped to lift stocks, as companies continue to report better results than expected. Analysts forecast this to be the best quarter of earnings growth in years.

Hasbro jumped $5.67, or 5.9 percent, to $101.70 after reporting stronger quarterly revenue and profits than analysts had forecast. Illinois Tool Works rose $4.89, or 3.6 percent, to $139.76 after also surprising analysts with a better-than-expected quarter.

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