After months of speculation about an early election in May, and perhaps thankfully for headline writers, May has surprised everyone by calling one in June. At first sight financial markets took fright at this news with the FTSE 100 falling by over 2%, but this was actually a reflection of the moves in the foreign currency markets where sterling shot up by 2% versus the dollar. With many of the UK’s largest listed companies deriving a large proportion of their revenues from abroad, a stronger currency has a negative effect on company profits.
Political pundits and financial markets seem confident that a larger Conservative majority will result. If by some off chance Corbyn does prevail, investors should brace themselves for falls in both the stockmarket and the pound. Assuming the election goes as intended, it could ease May’s hand in her negotiations with the EU. We still don’t know if May favours a hard Brexit, which would be bad news for UK asset prices, or a soft Brexit which would be more welcomed by financial markets. All in all, we don’t think this election alters much, unlike the invocation of Article 50.
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