19th September 2014
Sterling rose overnight and the FTSE opened up this morning as Scottish voters rejected plans for independence.
Overnight all 32 councils declared and the final results showed the ‘no’ campaign took 55% of the vote, with 2 million voting against independence and more than 1.6 million voting in favour.
The FTSE 100 opened 44 points, or 0.6%, higher at 6,863 as companies with Scottish links gained in early trading, building on a 35 point rise yesterday. Royal Bank of Scotland rose 4.1% to 372p and Lloyds increased 2.6% to 77.8p.Energy group SSE rose 1.8% to £15.48.
Insurer Standard Life, which had planned to move its headquarters to England in the event of independence, rose 1.5% to 421.9p. In a statement this morning it said it expected ‘further constitutional change’ and that it would ‘consider the implications of any changes for our customers and other stakeholders in our business to ensure their interests are represented and protected’.
Anticipation of a ‘no’ vote – which saw bookmaker Betfair pay out on ‘no’ bets earlier in the week – say the pound rally over the past 24 hours. It was trading higher at $1.6445 after hitting $1.6525 earlier.
Trevor Greetham, director of asset allocation at fund group Fidelity, said: ‘With the way clear for Bank of England rate hike once more it is no surprise that sterling is rallying. The impact on the overall stockmarket isn’t as large as you might expect as the many exporters in the FTSE stand to lose out from a stronger currency even as the financials with Scottish links bounce back.’
Speaking after the votes were counted, former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling who led the ‘Better Together’ campaign said the outcome was a ‘vote for change rather than needless separation’.
Scotland’s first minister and head of the SNP Alex Salmond said Westminster must now make good on its promise to devolve more power to Scotland.
‘Scotland will expect these [promises] to be honoured in rapid course,’ he said.
Prime minister David Cameron said Scotland would receive new powers as part of wider reform in the UK and that draft legislation will be in place in January.
‘We’ve heard the voice of Scotland, now we must hear the voices of millions of people in England,’ he said.