London Traders Brace for Marathon in Election All-Nighter

How the U.K. Election Works in 90 Seconds

Britain’s election campaign has left voters divided on their next government. That means an all-nighter for John Wraith, UBS Group AG’s head of U.K. rates strategy, and many colleagues in London’s financial world.

“I’m going to come to the office after lunch and put in a 24-hour shift,” said Wraith, who expects to be glued to his screens starting at about 10 p.m., with little time for a food break until mid-morning Friday. “I’ve decided I’d rather be here the whole way through as the polls close and the results start to filter through.”

Measures of volatility for the pound jumped before the election, with opinion polls suggesting neither Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives nor Ed Miliband’s Labour Party will win a majority. Negotiations by both sides to put together a coalition with smaller parties could drag into the weekend and beyond. That may leave few hours for sleep.

“I’m intending to stay up until around 2 a.m. U.K. time, as by that time we should have a fair picture,” said Sean Connery, a portfolio manager at Invesco Asset Management in London. “I will be in for about 7.30 a.m. on Friday. I don’t intend to be panic trading on Friday morning. A series of negotiations will need to take place over the weekend and we will seek to be neutral going into those discussions.”

Late-Night Takeaway

Although an official exit poll as voting closes at 10 p.m. London time will give traders the first hint of how the night may unfold, their opportunities to immediately react to those results have diminished since the previous election.

While the pound will trade throughout the night, as usual, there will be no 1 a.m. opening for U.K. gilt or stock futures, as there was in 2010. The cash-bond market will open as usual at 8 a.m. and U.K. stock futures will start trading at 7 a.m.

“I will be up all night for the election, though it is not clear what the results will mean for sterling,” said Graham Davidson, a currency trader at National Australia Bank Ltd. in London.

More practical matters are also getting consideration.

“I’ll be in from shortly before 10 p.m. for the exit poll and then through the night,” Ross Walker, an economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in London, said on Wednesday. “Several colleagues from research and trading desks will also be in overnight. One of my tasks for later today will be to work out what takeaway outlets in the vicinity will be open at 4 a.m.”

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