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Macron Leads the Pack Following First French Debate

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Macron emerges as the winner of the first French election debate, U.K. inflation rises more than expected, and Comey deals Trump a blow. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

French debate

The euro traded above $1.08 this morning after the independent, centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron came out on top in the first debate between the main contenders to be the next president of France. Markets unwound hedges against French election risks following the debate, with yields on short-dated German notes rising to the highest level in six weeks.

U.K. inflation

Inflation in the U.K. was 2.3 percent in the year through February, ahead of both economists' estimates and the Bank of England's 2 percent target. The pound climbed to $1.2462 after the data were released. The British government announced yesterday that Prime Minister Theresa May would trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on March 29 and initiate the two-year negotiation process for leaving the European Union. 

Comey testimony

In testimony to Congress yesterday FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the bureau is investigating allegations of Russian interference in November's presidential election, and established that there was no evidence to substantiate the president’s charge that his predecessor had wiretapped him. In Washington, the battle over healthcare rages on as Republican leaders make changes to the proposed bill designed to win over House conservatives, who insist there are still not enough votes to pass the measure. 

Markets mixed

Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific index rose less than 0.1 percent while Japan's Topix index closed 0.2 percent lower in its first session of the week. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index was broadly unchanged at 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time with financials among the best performers. U.S. market futures were higher

Fed speaker week

There are a raft of Federal Reserve officials speaking this week. This morning, Fed Bank of New York President William Dudley gave a talk at a forum on banking standards in London, in which he was critical of Wells Fargo & Co. but made no mention of monetary policy. At 12:00 p.m. the Kansas City Fed's Esther George gives an address, with Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester due at 6:00 p.m. President of the Boston Fed, Eric Rosengren, is due to make a speech in Indonesia at 9:45 p.m. Eastern Time.

What we've been reading 

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

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