French stocks slip in flat European market as vote nears
* France's CAC down 0.4 pct, lags Europe
* Software AG top gainer after results
* European earnings kick off in earnest next week (Adds details, updates prices)
By Kit Rees
LONDON, April 21 (Reuters) - 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 percent, while the pan-European STOXX index added 0.1 percent. On the week they were down slightly but both indexes are less than 2 percent below their highest level this year hit last week.
"So far markets have been pretty sanguine in the face of the (French) presidential election, which was flagged as one of the potential banana skins for markets in this year," Hargreaves Lansdown senior analyst, Laith Khalaf, said.
"There may be a bit of political weariness among investors, but also they may just be thinking that, actually, they’re not going to place market bets based on political events, and that would be an entirely sensible strategy," he said.
Among French standout movers, Danone was the biggest faller on the CAC 40, down 2.5 percent after reporting first-quarter sales figures. Continued...