November 29, 2019 / 12:36 PM / 7 days ago

UPDATE 2-Sterling two-week volatility jumps as UK election nears

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

* Graphic: Trade-weighted sterling since Brexit vote tmsnrt.rs/2hwV9Hv (Updates prices)

By Elizabeth Howcroft

LONDON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - The pound hovered around $1.29 on Friday, showing little reaction to headlines, with investors awaiting major political developments and the result of Britain’s Dec. 12 election.

Implied volatility gauges for both cable and euro-sterling maturing on Dec. 13 - the day after the election - were at their highest in five weeks as investors hedged their bets for election uncertainty.

Versus the dollar, the pound was last down 0.1% at $1.29 and it was flat against the euro at 85.285 pence .

It mostly held onto gains from when a major poll by YouGov released on Wednesday forecast that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party would win the election with its biggest majority in parliament since 1987.

“I think this week’s big news was that YouGov opinion poll a couple of days ago - the market’s waiting for the next headline,” said Jane Foley, senior FX strategist at Rabobank.

Foley said that if this were true there would be little news from the Conservative campaign other than reiterations of their pledge to “get Brexit done”, and news about spending, leaving sterling in a “holding position” for the next two weeks.

Sterling is heading for its quietest month since August, down around 0.3% so far in November - a small monthly move compared to October, where it rallied 5.2%.

Michael Hewson, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, said that he expects the pound to trade in the $1.27-$1.30 range until the election result is announced.

A Conservative majority could see the pound head towards $1.40, he said, as markets are not fully pricing in the Conservative lead shown by pre-election polls.

Commerzbank FX strategist Thu Lan Nguyen said that she would expect a rally in the pound if the Conservatives won a majority, because “there is still some scepticism about the polls”.

Johnson said that it would be best if U.S. President Donald Trump did not get involved in the election when he visits London for a NATO summit next week.

CMC’s Hewson said the Conservative lead in the polls was fragile because of the risk of Trump “sticking his foot in his gob” during his visit.

Analysts said that comments from Johnson in a wide-ranging interview on Friday morning - including that he would guarantee Britain’s departure from the EU on Jan. 31 and would not extend the transition period - did little to move the pound.

Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft Editing by Mark Heinrich

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