The failure to secure political stability – and the outcome of a hung parliament – was always going to be the pound’s nightmare scenario. When Theresa May called this election, markets were viewing things through the rosiest of lenses – with hopes that political uncertainty would decrease substantially under a more stable Conservative government. That narrative has been all but dashed. With the two-year Article 50 clock ticking, the passage of time is GBP negative; a working government is needed as soon as possible to avoid a further drop in the pound. The most likely path looks to be a Conservative-led coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP); while it may not be straightforward given noise over Theresa May possibly standing down, GBP could enjoy a small relief rally on any political clarity. The worst outcome for GBP now is any prolonged political uncertainty and difficulties in forming a working government over the coming days; here we would expect GBP to trade with a 3-4% political risk premium, with GBP/USD falling back to 1.24 and EUR/GBP moving up towards 0.90.
The FT reports that Labour and Conservative party strategists predict a comfortable 50-100 seats majority for the Tories. If confirmed, markets may see an initial relief rally. Nonetheless, over recent weeks, GBP has turned from a ‘buy the dip’ into a ‘sell the rally’ currency. We cite a handful of reasons.First,valuation is no longer as much in favour of sterling as compared to November when we expressed our out-of-consensus bullish GBP call. Second, GBP weakness has failed to provide a positive contribution to net exports. Third, EMU’s negotiation stance has hardened. Instead of considering making concessions to the UK, the EU has started focusing on deeper political and economic integration.Fourth, PM May has been criticised of weakness during what the FT has suggested has been “widely seen as a misfiring campaign’after the apparent reversal of part of the social care policy.Finally, the UK’s national balance sheethas weakened over recent months as households reduced savings, bringing forward consumption, while the real estate sector has started slowing as indicated by today’s release of the May RICS house price index slowing from 22% to 17%.