The premium investors demand for holding French bonds over German ones hit a one-month low on Wednesday, while French stocks climbed to a 15-month high after French presidential candidate Francois Fillon vowed to stay in the election race. David Pollard reports.
They wanted Francois Fillon. They got his press aide. The French presidential hopeful's visit to the annual Paris agricultural fair - a key campaign stop - postponed. Fillon himself at campaign HQ - with an announcement. He will fight on - despite a summons to see magistrates on March 15. (SOUNDBITE (French) FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, FRANCOIS FILLON, SAYING: "I won't give in, I won't surrender, I won't pull out, I'll fight to the end because, beyond my person, it's democracy that is being challenged." Fillon will be challenged - to answer allegations of misuse of public money. But the scandal that's dogged his campaign wasn't enough to spoil market reaction. French stocks hit 15-month highs. French bond yields were at a one-month low as investors factored in a smaller chance of a far-right victory by Marine Le Pen. Against an economic background that while improved, still concerns many. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, CCLA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, JAMES BEVAN, SAYING: "The real growth numbers display growth on quite a number of fronts. However, inflation is beginning to rise and if it were to accelerate further that would then become a brake on household real incomes and therefore a likely depressor of sentiment." But sentiment was bullish for the day's other VIP at the Paris farm show. Emmanuel Macron's hand seen strengthened by Fillon's move. The independent centrist candidate already consolidating his status in recent opinion polls as favourite.