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French Market Retreats

The French market is notably lower on Monday, after unimpressive economic data and the election results from France dampened risk appetite. The Asian markets fell and the U.S. index futures are lower.

Stocks with exposure to China came under pressure after the country's manufacturing activity shrank for a sixth consecutive month in April. The HSBC/Markit purchasing managers' index rose to 49.1 in April from 48.3 in March, with the reading below 50 still indicating a contraction in activity.

In the first round of the French Presidential Elections, Socialist leader Francois Hollande won the most number of votes, pushing incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy to the second place. Hollande has based his campaign mostly on tax-and-spend programs, higher taxes for the rich and promises to cut the country's widening budget deficit.

The election results have increased fears that the firefighting aimed at diffusing the debt crisis in Europe may see a setback.

Meanwhile, the Spanish economy slipped into a recession in the first quarter of 2012, the Bank of Spain said. Gross domestic product shrank 0.4 percent sequentially, slightly bigger than the 0.3 percent fall seen in the prior quarter.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is declining 2.17 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is dropping 1.63 percent.

The CAC 40 index is currently declining 1.92 percent.

ArcelorMittal is retreating 5 percent. Carmakers Renault and Peugeot are losing 4.3 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.

Credit Agricole, Societe Generale and BNP Paribas are declining between 4.2 percent and 3.8 percent.

EADS is losing about 3 percent. UBS cut the stock to "Neutral" from "Buy."

Danone is gaining 2.6 percent. Swiss foods giant Nestle edged out the French dairy giant to buy Pfizer's
nutrition business for nearly $12 billion.

France Telecom is down 0.5 percent. Nomura raised the stock to "Buy" from "Reduce."

Elsewhere in Europe, the German DAX is losing 2.54 percent and the UK's FTSE 100 is falling 1.57 percent. Switzerland's SMI is declining 1.62 percent.

In economic news, Eurozone private sector activity declined further to a 5-month low in April, flash estimate published by Markit Economics showed. The composite output index dropped unexpectedly to 47.4 in April from 49.1 in March. Economists were forecasting the reading to rise to 49.3.

Across Asia/Pacific, Australia's All Ordinaries lost 0.32 percent, China's Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.76 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng retreated 1.8 percent and Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.20 percent.

In the U.S., futures point to a lower open on Wall Street. In the previous session, the Dow rose half a percent and the S&P 500 edged up 0.1 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq posted a modest 0.2 percent loss.

In the commodity space, crude for June delivery is sliding $0.75 to $103.13 per barrel and June gold is falling $8.6 to $1634.2 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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