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Why Are Many French Voters Still Undecided?

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A deadly attack in Paris halts the French election campaign, it's PMI day, and oil has had a bad week. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

French election

Campaigning for Sunday's first round vote in the French election was suspended after yesterday's deadly attack in Paris, which left a policeman dead. At midnight tonight local time the campaign officially ends, with no more polls or public statements from candidates permitted. Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen of the National Front are still ahead in the four-way race, with Republican Francois Fillon and Communist-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon close behind. The top two candidates in Sunday's vote move forward to the May 7 runoff. 

PMI day

A Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing and services in the euro area rose 56.7 in April, the highest level in six years. The increase was led by figures from France, where the composite PMI unexpectedly surged to 57.4. There was less good news for the U.K. where retail sales slowed more than forecast, posting their biggest quarterly drop since 2010. While the pound came under some pressure after the release, the currency was still trading more than 2 percent higher for the week. Markit PMI data for the U.S. are due at 9:45 a.m. Eastern Time.

Oil's bad week

Despite reports of a deal to extend production cuts, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate for June delivery was trading at $50.71 by 5:30 a.m., down over 4.5 percent for the week. High inventories and U.S production increases continue to outweigh the effect of OPEC production curbs. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. says that the selloff has been driven by technical factors, and that fundamental forces that support a rise in prices remain in place. 

Markets mixed

Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.7 percent, while Japan's Topix index closed 1.1 percent higher after Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said he will retain an accommodative policy stance. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.1 percent lower at 5:42 a.m. with France's CAC 40 dropping 0.6 percent ahead of Sunday's vote. S&P 500 futures pointed to a higher open

Trump tax target

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order later today targeting tax rules introduced under the Obama administration. Trump said he wants Congress to pass both legislation scaling back Obamacare, and a spending bill to keep the U.S. government running next week. Meanwhile, the fallout from the president's frozen travel ban continues as travelers under the Global Entry program and other "trusted" categories are finding their enrollments revoked

What we've been reading 

This is what's caught our eye over the last 24 hours.

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