French presidential hopefuls wrap up campaigns in tight race

Veteran centrist Francois Bayrou, who has backed Macron, warned Wednesday that several possibilities were possible for the run-off vote on May 7.

That has set off a wave of market volatility.

Opponents of Le Pen and her anti-immigration National Front party also skirmished with police outside a Paris rally this week. An initial sigh of relief will be heard if Macron faces Le Pen.

A "Frexit" and an opting out of the euro are two of the party's centrepiece policies, meaning that a radically transformed economic model could well take shape if Le Pen seizes power.

Fillon's margin of victory over Le Pen is seen as the smallest, so investors may find this second-round scenario more chilling than the above pairing.

Overall, there is a chance that the market has been wrong-footed once again by the polls, and Le Pen is not guaranteed a spot in the second round.

Given such demands, markets sense Le Pen holds a much deeper ideological hostility to the European Union than Melenchon, whose principal objection is to the bloc's insistence on austerity policies - a view shared by many more centrist voters.

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Also Wednesday, the Grand Mosque of Lyon issued an appeal urging Muslims to cast ballots instead of isolating themselves, "so that all the children of France, regardless of their skin colour, their origins or their religion, are fully involved in the future of their country". Also like Le Pen, he would likely struggle to attain a majority in parliament to carry out his plans.

Nevertheless, recent analysis by UBS projects that a Le Pen victory would be accompanied by a crash in Eurozone stocks of up to 35 percent, as well as a 10-percent weakening of the euro.

Le Pen has claimed that her proposals such as expelling any foreigner convicted of a crime or suspected of being radicalised would have helped prevent some of the attacks since 2015 which have claimed more than 200 lives.

Macron yesterday told a rally that he was the only candidate capable "of ensuring the security" of his countrymen and pledged to "track down all those who have attacked our country or are planning to do so and prevent them from doing harm".

The BVA poll showed abstentions at between 20 and 24 percent. "That it is no longer just a Le Pen risk is a grave concern".

With a persistent high terrorism risk in the country where a state of emergency has already been imposed, Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said 50,000 police, gendarmes and soldiers would be deployed during the election's two rounds.

Still, caveats must apply following Donald Trump's victory in the USA presidential election and Britons' vote to leave the European Union, events which both caught markets off guard previous year. That's higher than the probability assigned to both Trump and Brexit at a similar stage before those votes, they pointed out. Given the reaction of financial markets to the UK's Brexit vote, moreover, it seems reasonable to conclude that the Front National party is likely to have the most seismic impact should it win the election.

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