France's Fillon cancels appearance, due to make statement

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French presidential candidate Francois Fillon abruptly canceled a high-profile campaign appearance on Wednesday and a newspaper reported he had been summoned by magistrates investigating a ‘fake work’ scandal involving his wife.
Fillon was holding talks with senior officials of his party, and there was no confirmation of the report in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
The 62-year-old former prime minister said he would make a statement at noon (1100 GMT). A source close to Alain Juppe, whom Fillon defeated in the contest to be The Republicans’ candidate, said he would appear alongside Fillon.
Fillon’s campaign has been battered for weeks by allegations that he paid his wife Penelope hundreds of thousands of euros of public money to be his parliamentary assistant, but that she actually did very little work. He denies any wrongdoing and says it was a proper job.
Juppe, another former prime minister, has previously ruled out stepping in as the presidential candidate if Fillon, at one point the favorite, was forced to quit the race.
The gap between French and German bond yields briefly tightened to around 66 basis points on Wednesday but market reaction was generally muted as the implications for the two-round April 23 and May 7 election remained unclear.
The investigation of Fillon and his wife has unnerved investors who fear Fillon’s campaign woes have handed the anti-euro, anti-immigration Marine Le Pen of the National Front a higher chance of winning the presidency. Polls suggest, however, that she would lose in the second round to centrist Emmanuel Macron.
A journalist for French investigative web site Mediapart reported that Penelope Fillon was being held for questioning by police, but he later issued a correction, saying this had been denied by a judicial source.

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