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Politics

Japanese shares surge on news of Macron presidential win

French centrist's victory pushes Nikkei average to 17-month high

A man walks by a screen in central Tokyo showing the Nikkei Stock Average trading above 19,800 on May 8.

TOKYO -- Japanese shares ended higher Monday in the wake of Emmanuel Macron's victory in the final round of the French presidential election.

The Nikkei Stock Average closed at a 17-month high of 19,895.70, up 2.3%, from its previous close May 2, after a three-day public holiday. The index topped the previous year-high of 19,633.75, reached on March 13.

The news that the pro-European Union centrist had defeated far right candidate Marine Le Pen calmed investor worries that France might pull out of the EU. The 39-year-old Macron won a decisive tally of around 66% of the vote, according to the French Interior Ministry.

Fears of a "Frexit" have receded and investors are reacting by buying shares. The yen also weakened against key currencies over the Golden Week holidays, encouraging purchases of blue chip stocks, particularly exporters.

Shares of companies with large European operations performed well. Sony and Mazda Motor ended the day up 3.5% and 1.9%, respectively. Automaker shares such as Toyota Motor and Honda Motor rose, too. Suzuki Motor finished 4.5% higher.

Macron's comfortable win brought relief to investors concerned that another populist upheaval following Britain's decision to leave the EU and Donald Trump's election as U.S. President last year would create more uncertainty for the global economy. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued a statement congratulating Macron, describing his election as a "symbolic victory" over an inward-looking vision and protectionism. The result showed the French people's confidence in the EU, Abe said.

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