After a Kantar poll showed that Labour was gaining support, with the Conservatives leading by 43 percent and Labour closing the gap at 32 percent, the pound reacted by falling lower.
FXStreet’s Yohay Elam could not have put it better: “Bearded Corbyn is bringing the bears out." While the chances are low, the possibility of Jeremy Corbyn being the next PM has spooked the pound.
Up until now, the pound has reacted positively in accordance with the possibility of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party winning at the UK general election. With polls mostly showing that the Conservatives’ lead has been growing, analysts have been anticipating a majority of seats for the Conservatives, which will significantly boost the pound. This is based on the belief that Johnson will “get Brexit done” before the deadline of 31 January, which means that an orderly Brexit will come hand in hand with the pound trading higher.
However, after the Labour party released its manifesto last week promising to increase both spending and taxes, support pensioners and nationalise industries, alongside the pledge of a confirmatory referendum on Brexit, support has surged for the main opposition party, something which is now reflected in the polls.
The Kantar poll
Kantar surveyed 1,097 people online between 21-25 of November. According to the poll, which took place after both parties had published their manifestos, support for the Conservatives fell 2 points while Labour gained 5 points.
The Kantar poll was published on Tuesday following Monday's poll by ICM for Reuters which also showed that the Conservative's lead is threatened by Labour, supporting further the possibility of a hung parliament. A hung parliament will be negative for Sterling as it will create uncertainty over Brexit and hurt businesses and financial markets’ sentiment.
Markets are wary
If Labour continues to perform well in the polls and the gap between the two main opposition parties tightens, then the pound might be unable to maintain its steady upward trajectory. Analysts are cautious now as the risks for the pound are increasing due to markets being too confident that a Conservative majority was the most certain outcome. With the campaign entering its last two weeks and undecided voters (most possibly Labour voters) changing current certainties, risks are definitely on the rise over the coming days.
Investors are wary of the latest Labour bounce, but if Conservatives continue to poll well, then things will change again and the market will become more confident over a Conservative majority scenario.
According to CNBC, Opinium’s latest voter intention poll gives the Conservatives a 19-point advantage over Labour, but “this could be too good to be true,” as BMO Capital Markets Head of European FX Strategy Stephen Gallo said. Gallo also stated that the outlook for GBP was binary. He said: “We’d much rather be looking for value in selling the GBP on a 1-3 month basis, on the view that hung parliament odds are ‘underpriced’ by the FX market, and even with a comfortable (Conservative) majority, the remaining U.K.-EU negotiations on an FTA (free trade agreement) will probably raise the odds of a ‘no deal’ exit from the transition phase in 2020.”
Whether the pound continues to retreat due to polls showing a Conservative lead shrinking, it remains to be seen.
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