NEW YORK: US stocks have dipped with investors cautious ahead of the first round of the closely contested French presidential election.
The first round of France's poll may be too close to call when polls close on Sunday because initial projections will not be available as early as in the past, pollsters and their watchdog said.
Most polls see centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen qualifying for a May 7 runoff, but conservative Francois Fillon and leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon are not far behind and within the margin of error.
Also impacting markets, US President Donald Trump said he would have a major tax reform announcement on Wednesday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.15 per cent, the S&P 500 lost 0.30 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.11 per cent.
LONDON: French blue-chip stocks underperformed other European benchmark indexes on Friday as investors retreated from risky bets ahead of the too-close-to-call first round of France's presidential election.
The CAC fell 0.4 per cent, while the pan-European STOXX index added 0.1 per cent.
Meanwhile, Germany's DAX gained 0.18 per cent and London's FTSE 100 was steady, down just 0.06 per cent.
Among French standout movers, Danone was the biggest faller on the CAC 40, down 2.5 per cent after reporting first-quarter sales figures.
French banks Societe Generale and BNP Paribas extended the previous session's gains, rising 1.7 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively.
Europe's earnings season kicks off in earnest next week with Credit Suisse, UBS and SAP among those reporting results.
TOKYO: Asian stocks were unscathed by a US trade investigation on Chinese steel exports.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.5 per cent on Friday, taking its cue from Wall Street's solid performance overnight on expectations of strong first-quarter earnings growth.
Asian steelmakers were mostly steady or higher, as investors dismissed for now any negative impact from the launch of a US trade probe against Chinese steel exporters, although Chinese companies shed some of their earlier gains. The move sent their US counterparts surging over 8 per cent overnight.
Hong Kong stocks edged lower in thin trading as investors took to the sidelines ahead of the first round of the French poll.
Both the benchmark Hang Seng index and the China Enterprises Index each lost 0.1 per cent.
But Chinese markets shrugged off President Trump's decision to launch a trade probe against global steel exporting countries including China, the world's largest, raising the possibility of new tariffs as it had been long anticipated.
The blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.2 per cent, while the Shanghai Composite Index was flat.
WELLINGTON: The S&P/NZX 50 index edged up 9.16 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 7197.21.