General Election and the Pound: Tonight's Key Moments for Currency Markets

The British Pound is expected to react sharply to the outcome of today's election vote, here are some key moments and thoughts on the coming hours.

⏰ The first major event for foreign exchange markets will be the release of the exit poll at 10PM.

The consensus amongst analysts is that the Pound will initially react to the projected size of any Conservative majority. The 2017 exit poll had the Conservatives on 314 vs 318 that materialised.

"Abandon all your priors when the UK exit poll is released at 22:00 - it has a very good track record since its current methodology was introduced in 2005. Its biggest error in forecasting Tory seats was in 2015 (out by 15). Its average absolute error since 2005 has been just 8," says Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Exit poll accuracy

Image courtesy of Pantheon Macroeconomics

A large Conservative majority should be positive for Sterling, a small majority negative while no majority would likely prompt a deep decline in value.

"It has been costly for GBP traders to doubt the exit poll’s findings; this chart shows that the shift in sterling at 22:00 in 2015 and 2017 was extended during trading as the results came in," says Tombs.

Pound moves in wake of exit poll

Image courtesy of Pantheon Macroeconomics

"GBP/USD could test its 2019 high of 1.3380 and GBP/EUR leap to 1.20 if the exit poll after UK voting ends around 22:00GMT suggests the Tories have won a Commons majority. That would keep Boris Johnson in 10 Downing Street and allow him to lead Britain out of the European Union," says Robert Howard, an options analyst at Thomson Reuters. "GBP/USD might even get to 1.35 if the exit poll tips a Tory majority much larger than the 24 to 38 seats recently forecast by Focaldata, YouGov and Datapraxis."

⏰ From around 11pm watch for the first constituencies to declare, these are typically safe Labour seats but they are instructive in they can signal any swing in votes.

⏰ From 3am the number of constituencies declaring starts to rapidly increase:

Constituency declarations

⏰ By 4am it should be clear which way this election has gone.

Poll results timeline

Image courtesy of Arkera

"Markets are pricing in a comfortable Tory win. Estimated implied probability of a +40 seat Tory majority is ~60%. Betting markets about 50%. Difficulty is there's very few scenarios that beat market expectations - so risk-reward points to potential GBP wobble at some point today," says Viraj Patel, a foreign exchange strategist with Arkera.


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