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Euro steady, focus on Sunday's French presidential election

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04/21/2017 | 03:26am CET
FILE PHOTO: An advertisement promoting China's renminbi (RMB) or yuan, U.S. dollar and Euro exchange services is seen outside at foreign exchange store in Hong Kong, China

The euro held steady below a three-week high against the dollar on Friday as investors awaited this weekend's first round of voting in France's presidential election.

The dollar was little changed against a basket of six major currencies at 99.815 <.DXY>, after the latest data on U.S. jobless claims and business activity in the mid-Atlantic region did not change traders' views of modest U.S. economic growth and low inflation.

The euro was flat at $1.0718 <EUR=>, after having risen to as high as $1.0778 on Thursday, its highest level since late March, as traders shut down broad bets against the common currency ahead of the French vote on Sunday.

Going into the first round of France's presidential election moves in the euro will probably be limited to position adjustment, said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief currency strategist for Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.

Yamamoto said his baseline scenario is for French centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen to make it past the first round in a close vote.

"But if Le Pen were to get past the first round with a wide lead, the (market) impact could be large," Yamamoto said.

Security concerns took centre stage on Friday in the last days of France's tight presidential race after a Paris policeman was shot dead.

Polls suggest the most likely outcome of Sunday's first round of voting is centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen facing off in the May 7 second round.

Should Macron rank first or second in Sunday's election, he is seen easily winning the runoff vote on May 7.

However, after surprises in last year's U.S. election and the UK Brexit referendum, voter indecision and low turnout could catch markets wrong-footed yet again.

The euro held steady against the yen at 117.10 yen <EURJPY=R>, staying below Thursday's high of 117.81 yen, which was the highest since April 10.

The dollar held steady versus the yen at 109.28 yen <JPY=> after rising 0.4 percent on Thursday.

(Reporting by Masayuki Kitano; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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