London stocks, pound climb after Liz Truss leaves office

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A bookmaker takes bets for the next British Prime Minister after Liz Truss resigned in London on Thursday. Associated Press

The London stock market and the pound bounced on Thursday after British Prime Minister Liz Truss announced her resignation following disastrous policies that rocked the markets for weeks.

The pound briefly surged more than one per cent against the dollar to $1.1336 after Truss ended six tumultuous weeks in power — but analysts said gains were pared by the ongoing uncertainty.

The FTSE 100 index was up 0.3 per cent while the country’s borrowing costs eased on the news, as the yield on 30-year government bonds, known as gilts, fell to 3.85 per cent.

“Sterling and gilts rallied as the sorry reign of Liz Truss came to an end,” said Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson.

“After a flurry of activity we are seeing retracement of these initial moves as markets realise that there’s still huge uncertainty about whether the Tory party can survive in power.” Wilson warned the government’s “economic policies were already dead in the water so the market doesn’t have a huge amount of genuine new information to move on.” The government had teetered on the brink of collapse after the resignation of home secretary Suella Braverman Wednesday.

On Thursday, Truss announced that she “cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected.” It comes days after the sacking of finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng and the dismembering of her government’s debt-fuelled budget that had sparked chronic markets turmoil. “Although the resignation of Liz Truss as Prime Minister leaves the UK without a leader when it faces huge economic, fiscal and financial market challenges, the markets appear to be relieved,” said Paul Dales, chief UK economist at Capital economics.

The recovery seen on Thursday was due to “the markets… further pricing out the risk premium that the Truss government generated.” There was still plenty of caution towards the UK.

“While this has brought about a brief respite to the political risk premium it’s hard to see how any replacement will be able to coalesce around any form of unity of policy in this dumpster fire of a government,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Elsewhere, US and European markets rose a day after losses over persistent concerns over soaring inflation, interest rate hikes and looming recessions.

Wall Street’s main indexes regained footing on Thursday, recovering from a brief shock after the resignation of Liz Truss as prime minister of the United Kingdom, as focus moved back to positive forecasts from IBM and AT&T.

IBM Corp shares gained 4.1%, leading the advance among Dow components after the software and IT services company beat quarterly earnings estimates on Wednesday and said it expects to exceed full-year revenue growth targets.

Fellow blue-chip stock Verizon Communications Inc rose 2.3% after peer AT&T Inc jumped 9.9% upon raising its annual profit forecast.

Both the companies lifted up the S&P 500 communication services sector index by 1.9% to lead gains among the 11 major sectors on the benchmark index.

This comes after upbeat results from big US banks, Netflix Inc, Procter & Gamble Co and Travelers Companies Inc prompted analysts to raise third-quarter profit growth expectations for S&P 500 companies to 3.1% from a 2.8% increase earlier in the week, according to Refinitiv data.

However, the estimate is still sharply lower than an 11.1% increase that was forecast at the start of July.

“With the small set of companies that have reported earnings so far, we’re seeing majority of them beat profit estimates and I would very much put that in the ‘better-than-feared’ category,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley Wealth in New York.

Tesla Inc dropped 6.6% as the electric vehicle maker flagged persistent logistics challenges, with fourth-quarter deliveries growing by less than the aimed 50%. Wall Street’s main indexes have been hammered by fears of aggressive interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve in recent months, with Treasury yields climbing to multi-year highs amid no real signs of US inflation slowing.

Data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell unexpectedly last week, pointing to a tight labor market even as demand for labor is cooling amid higher interest rates.

The haven dollar soared above 150 yen for the first time since 1990 before falling back slightly — stoking speculation that Japanese authorities could intervene again to support the battered currency.

The greenback also rallied to a record high at 7.2790 against the offshore yuan, with the US unit boosted by the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes.

Asian markets finished the day in the red, with selling also fuelled by concerns about the Chinese economy as Covid cases spike in the country and leaders stick to lockdown strategies.

A decision to delay the release of China’s third-quarter economic growth data this week added to unease.

Oil extended Wednesday’s rally that came in reaction to a drop in US petroleum stockpiles, and despite President Joe Biden’s decision to release 15 million barrels from US strategic reserves.

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