Are British Elections a Bullish Gamechanger for the Pound? April 19, 2017

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The pound was the big mover on Tuesday as it surged 2.2% following PM May’s call for elections in June. (As a bit of background, May calling for snap elections means that in the next few days Parliament will be dissolved, and then there will be national elections for all Parliamentary seats over the next six weeks).

The news took markets by surprise, but it is a politically savvy move by Ms. May. Right now, in part because a swell in national pride following the official start of Brexit, PM May is very popular. Calling for elections now will capitalize on that popularity, and help her Tories (Conservatives) increase their majority in Parliament.

From an economic standpoint, however, this isn’t likely to have much of an actual effect. Like the Republicans in the US, the Tories are viewed as the “pro-business” par-ty, so there was a knee-jerk positive reaction. However, Brexit will be the major influence on the value of the pound and the British economy over the next few years, not internal politics. Besides, as we’ve seen with Republicans here in the US, just because a party has power doesn’t mean it can actually get anything done!

Bottom line, the pound has surged to multi-month highs and clearly broken resistance at 1.25, and there’s more short covering to come. But, I do not view Tuesday’s events as a bullish gamechanger for the pound or British stocks, and if anything I’d be inclined to sell the pound if it approached 1.30 vs. the dollar.

For now, though, standing on the sidelines is warranted.

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