European equity benchmarks were mixed on Friday morning as traders looked ahead to the weekend's French presidential election after a terrorist attack rocked Paris on Thursday night.
A policeman was killed and two people were injured in attack last night in central Paris, just days before voters go to the polls in Sunday's presidential election with centrist former economy minister Emmanuel Macron holding onto his narrow lead ahead of right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen. Francois Fillon, a former prime minister, and leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon have also gained support in the polls in recent weeks and remain in contention, according to reports.
"Trading sentiment is increasingly cautious in front of Sunday's first round of voting for the French Presidential election that is too close to call," Richard Perry, chief market analyst at Hantec Markets, said by e-mail. "The shooting of a policeman in Paris last night could play a role in swaying voters however it is not immediately obvious that the stable, statesman-like Macron would suffer over the populist opportunists such as Le Pen or even Melenchon. Volatility is likely to be seen early next week."
In equities, basic resources shares and financials advanced while the consumer goods and oil and gas sectors were under pressure. French food producer Danone fell 1.9% after reporting that sales rose by 0.7% in the first quarter from a year earlier, compared to growth of 2.1% in the fourth quarter, according to Reuters. Luxury goods company Kering dropped 1.2% in Paris and peer Burberry lost 1.1% in London. Beiersdroft, a German personal-care product manufacturer, fell 1.3% in Frankfurt.
Miner Rio Tinto rose 2.1% and Glencore gained 1.6% in London. Oil company Total lost 1.1% in Paris. Societe Generale and BNP Paribas advanced 1.4% and 0.8%, respectively, in Paris. German tech company Software jumped 7% after reporting first-quarter earnings, making it the top performer in Europe's benchmark STOXX 600 index.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up marginally, by less than a tenth of a percent, down 0.6% on the week. The euro-region blue-chip STOXX 50 fell 0.3% and the CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.5%. The DAX in Frankfurt was flat and the FTSE 100 in London was down less than a tenth of a percent.