Britain’s pound took a battering dive on Friday, staying at its two-month lows, after Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party lost its parliamentary majority in elections, plunging the country into potential political chaos days before the start of Brexit negotiations.
Sterling fell 1.6% to $1.2748 after sliding as much as 2.5% to $1.2636 in early European trade , its weakest level since April 18.
With no clear winner emerging from Thursday’s election, Prime Minister Theresa May was fighting to hold on to her job on Friday as she faced calls to quit after her election gamble to win a stronger mandate she had sought to conduct exit talks with the rest of the European Union failed, leaving no single party with a clear claim to power just 10 days before the start of negotiations on Britain’s divorce from the European Union.
Lee, Hardman, a currency strategist in London, said the market wants more clearness now as far as who will be the next Prime Minister, what kind of form will the government take and eventually how all that feeds through into upcoming Brexit negotiations are concerned.
“In the near term the increased political uncertainty and the risk of more disorderly Brexit negotiations should enforce pound weakness.”
The surprise of a result that raised questions about how Britain will go on with its plan to leave the EU, and whether any party can form a stable government, sent the pound to eight-week lows against the dollar and its lowest levels in seven months versus the euro.
After falling sharply on an exit poll released when polls closed at 21:00 GMT, which showed Britain was set for a hung parliament, the pound had steadied a little in Asian trading. However, it fell sharply again as London traders arrived at their desks, as it became clear that no party had won a majority.
Another currency strategist in London, Viraj Patel, said that the pound’s nightmare scenario would always be the failure to have a safe political stability and the result of a hung parliament.
“Hopes that political uncertainty would decrease substantially under a more stable Conservative government…(have) been all but dashed,” said Patel.
“With the two-year Article 50 clock ticking, the passage of time is sterling-negative,” he added, referring to the formal Article 50 process by which Britain is set to leave the EU. “A working government is needed as soon as possible to avoid a further drop in the pound.”
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