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Wall St set to open slightly higher; French election eyed

First round of French election due to be held on Sunday.

Wall Street looked set to open slightly higher on Friday as earnings rolled in, while investors braced for the first round of the closely contested French presidential election.

Centrist Emmanuel Macron is leading most opinion polls for the election’s first round on Sunday and is expected to contest a second-round run-off with Marine Le Pen, head of the anti-European Union and anti-immigrant National Front.

“Although Macron has been labeled as favorite to become the next French President, an unexpected Marine Le Pen victory could deal a symbolic blow to the unity of the European Union and ultimately create a tidal wave of risk aversion,” FXTM analyst Lukman Otunuga said in a note.

The indexes looked set to snap their two-week losing streak following a rally on Thursday, driven partly by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s comments that an overhaul of the tax code will be unveiled very soon.

“The comments about the tax reform and generally good quarterly earnings are giving equities a bit of a boost,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Of the 82 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Thursday afternoon, about 75 percent have topped expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, above the 71 percent average for the past four quarters.

Overall, profits of S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen 11.1 percent in the quarter, the best since 2011.

Dow e-minis were up 10 points, or 0.05 percent, with 20,915 contracts changing hands at 8:25 a.m. ET (1225 GMT).

S&P 500 e-minis were up 2 points, or 0.09 percent, with 115,342 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 6.25 points, or 0.11 percent, on volume of 24,801 contracts.

On the economic front, data is expected to show March existing home sales expanded slightly to 5.6 million from 5.48 million in February. The data is expected at 10 a.m. ET (1400 GMT).

Markit’s PMI flash data for April is expected to show a slightly higher reading.

Oil prices edged lower, on course for the biggest weekly drop in a month, over doubts that an OPEC-led production cut will restore balance to an oversupplied market.

Shares of Dow component Visa were up 2.6 percent at $93.50 in premarket trading after the payments network operator’s quarterly results beat expectations.

General Electric was up 1.8 percent at $30.80 after the company’s revenue beat Wall Street expectations.

Mattel fell 7.2 percent to $23.40 after the toymaker reported a far bigger-than-expected quarterly loss and drop in sales. 

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