European, US Stocks In Eerie Calm As French Vote Looms

"It is kind of reminiscent of the big events last year where people know that it is a binary outcome so the best approach is to remain as cautious as possible," said Simon Derrick, head of the global markets research team at Bank of New York Mellon in London. France's CAC stock index fell 0.9%, though it was only around 2 percent off its highest levels since mid-2015.

French 10-year yields fell two basis points to 0.92 percent. Bunds also gained, with the yield on the benchmark due in a decade one basis point lower at 0.24 percent. U.S. government debt fell, as the yield on the 10-year note rose one basis point to 2.24 percent, climbing for a third straight day.

In Asia stocks ended the week on a positive note, unscathed by a U.S. trade probe on Chinese steel exports. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.5 percent, but was down 0.4 percent on the week. Asian steelmakers were mostly steady or higher, as investors dismissed for now any negative impact from the launch of a U.S. trade probe against Chinese steel exporters, although Chinese companies shed some of their earlier gains. The move sent their U.S. counterparts surging over 8 percent overnight. Japan's Nikkei advanced 1 percent, posting a weekly gain of 1.6 percent. Chinese shares in Shanghai added 0.1 percent but recorded a 2.2 percent weekly drop, their worst since mid-December.

"The U.S. accounts for a small proportion of China's steel exports," said Yang Kunhe, steel analyst at Northeast Securities in Beijing, adding Northeast Asia and Africa have been growing markets for Chinese steel over the past few years.   "But if Trump’s probe translates into actions, it would increase the chance of trade friction, and hurt market sentiment."

Markets also mostly shrugged off White House comments that the U.S. may consider tit-for-tat tariffs on imports, and concerns raised by the International Monetary Fund that U.S. tax cuts could fuel financial risk-taking and increase public debt.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell for a second week after President Donald Trump said this month the currency is getting too strong. Rebounding commodities propelled gains in European mining stocks while oil rose.

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