Pound climbs after Labour's UK election win

The pound got a boost as Labour Party Keir Starmer took over at Number 10 Downing Street, the residence of the British prime minister (HENRY NICHOLLS)
The pound got a boost as Labour Party Keir Starmer took over at Number 10 Downing Street, the residence of the British prime minister (HENRY NICHOLLS)

The pound advanced Friday after Britain's center-left Labour Party clinched an expected landslide election victory to end 14 years of right-wing Conservative rule.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index gave up early gains made following news that Keir Starmer would become Britain's new prime minister, after Labour trounced Rishi Sunak's Conservatives as Wall Street opened.

Labour's widely forecast triumph has sparked investor hope of economic stability amid easing inflation, although Starmer faces challenges in the form of strained public finances, a stretched state health service, and flagging economic growth.

"The main beneficiaries of the UK election result were UK housebuilders which gained around 3 percent on the day while banks and energy companies slid," said Axel Rudolph, senior market analyst at online trading platform IG.

Paris stocks finished lower ahead of France's crucial legislative vote this weekend despite tactical voting efforts appearing to have reduced the chances of the far right taking over the government.

Analysts remain wary that the second-biggest economy in the European Union could be headed for a period of political deadlock if there is no overall winner on Sunday.

"After some of the left and centrist candidates pulled out from the elections, the most likely scenario is a hung parliament," noted research consultancy Oxford Economics.

"France will likely enter a period of uncertainty. This would result in policy paralysis, delaying fiscal consolidation and preventing any meaningful reforms until the next presidential election," it said.

- US jobs data boost -

Meanwhile, investor sentiment was given a boost on Friday as softer US labor market data gave the Federal Reserve room to cut interest rates.

Wall Street's major indices closed in the green, with the Nasdaq and S&P 500 both extending gains after earlier closing at fresh records.

This came after the world's biggest economy added 206,000 jobs in June, down from the month prior, while the unemployment rate ticked up, the Labor Department said early Friday. Wage gains moderated as well.

Fed policymakers have held interest rates at the highest levels in more than two decades to stamp out inflation, and a cooler jobs market could ease concerns over its contribution to price pressures.

US Treasury bond yields, closely watched as a proxy for interest rates, pulled back after the jobs report on expectations of lower rates.

Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare said: "The key takeaway from the report is that labor market conditions are softening, which will provide the Fed some cover to cut rates in September if it so chooses."

But weakness seen in the data also sparked some concern over conditions that could translate into lower earnings growth, noted Briefing.com.

Asian stock markets closed mostly lower Friday, a day after Tokyo's indexes hit record highs.

The yen recovered further against the dollar after this week striking the lowest level in nearly four decades.

- Key figures around 2015 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.2 percent at 39,375.87 points (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.5 percent at 5,567.19 (close)

New York - Nasdaq Composite: UP 0.9 percent at 18,352.75 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.5 percent at 8,203.93 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.3 percent at 7,675.62 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: UP 0.1 percent at 18,475.45 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 4,979.39 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: FLAT at 40,912.37 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.3 percent at 17,799.61 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,949.93 (close)

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2816 from $1.2765 on Thursday

Euro/pound: DOWN at 84.57 pence from 84.69 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0842 from $1.0813

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 160.78 yen from 161.16 yen

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.9 percent at $83.16 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: DOWN 1.0 percent at $86.54 per barrel