Pound Drops as U.K. Exit Poll Unnerves Investors: Markets Wrap

  • May’s Conservative party forecast to win without majority
  • U.S. stocks end little changed amid Comey Senate testimony

Sterling Seen as Vulnerable to U.K. Vote

The pound tumbled the most since October and the yen advanced as a note of caution spread across financial markets after an exit poll showing the U.K. faces a hung parliament rekindled political uncertainty in Europe.

Sterling dropped 1.6 percent to $1.2748 as of 6:53 a.m. in Tokyo, after the ruling Conservative Party was projected to win most seats, though fall short of an overall majority, according to an exit poll. The yen strengthened slightly, while S&P 500 futures fell 0.2 percent.

Read our TOPLive blog coverage of the election here.

The election results cap a day of major events that have riveted investors all week, with the outcome raising the prospect of another round of political turmoil less than a year after Britain voted to leave the European Union. U.S. stocks ended the regular session little changed, while Treasuries fell as the European Central Bank policy decision and testimony from former FBI Director James Comey did little to impact financial markets.

“The initial exit poll suggests it’s been a catastrophic campaign for Theresa May,” said Craig Erlam, London-based senior market analyst at OANDA Corp.“A hung parliament is the worst outcome from a markets perspective as it creates another layer of uncertainty ahead of the Brexit negotiations and chips away at what is already a short timeline to secure a deal for Britain.”

Former FBI Director James Comey answers questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Source: Bloomberg)

Read our Markets Live blog here.

Here are the main moves in markets:

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index added 0.2 percent on Thursday.
  • The euro fell 0.1 percent to $1.1203 in early trading Friday, after dropping 0.4 percent on Thursday. The pound weakened 1.6 percent, the most since October.
  • The yen climbed 0.1 percent to 109.89 per dollar.

Stocks 

  • The S&P 500 rose less than one point, for a second day of gains. It briefly rose above its closing record during Comey’s testimony but faded in afternoon trading.
  • The Stoxx Europe 600 Index edged lower, while the FTSE 100 dropped 0.4 percent.
  • The MSCI Emerging Market Index added 0.3 percent.

Bonds 

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose two basis points to 2.19 percent on Thursday.
  • Benchmark U.K. gilt yields rose three basis points to 1.03 percent, underperforming European peers. 
  • German bund yields fell one basis point to 0.25 percent.

Commodities

  • Oil fell to the lowest level in five weeks in New York after an unexpected increase in U.S. crude stockpiles cast doubt on OPEC’s ability to rebalance world crude markets. 
  • Futures settled lower by 0.2 percent to $45.72. The contract fell as much as 0.9 percent in New York after sinking 5.1 percent Wednesday.
  • Gold futures fell 1.1 percent to settle at $1,279.50 an ounce in New York. 
  • Rubber capped its longest run of losses in at least 42 years, dropping to a seven-month low on concern that a shaky Chinese economy may slow demand just as supply picks up.
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