World Bulletin / News Desk
Financial markets dislike uncertainty but were handed a hugely clouded outlook Friday after the Conservative party of Prime Minister Theresa May lost its parliamentary majority in Britain's snap general election.
The initial reaction to the general election outcome has been to send the pound plunging.
However this propelled the London stock market higher as a weaker pound boosts the FTSE 100's numerous multinational companies that earn in currencies other than sterling.
"Everyone is a bit tired," said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at trading group ETX Capital.
"There are a lot of uncertainties," he told AFP from his company's offices soon after the start of London trading.
While the Conservative party came first, it lost its parliamentary majority, and is now set to secure the support of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and its 10 seats to push it over the line.
May called the election in April in an attempt to extend her majority and strengthen her Brexit-negotiating position, but her gamble backfired spectacularly, triggering fresh concern for the financial sector and businesses.
"The City of London would wish to see an effective and secure government formed as soon as possible," said Catherine McGuinness, the body's policy chairman.
"Markets do not like instability. It is also important for the prospect of successful Brexit negotiations that we have certainty in the political system," she added in a statement.
Leftist opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose Labour party surged from 20 points behind in the opinion polls, has told May to quit after she "lost votes, lost support and lost confidence".
"I think Corbyn was underestimated massively," Kevin Hector, a fifty-year-old worker at Swiss bank UBS, told AFP on Friday. "The question now is Theresa May's future obviously, it looks like rejection of a hard Brexit."
A so-called "hard" Brexit would see Britain's departure from the single market or tariff-free zone, while also ending the free movement of people.
"We might have a softer version of Brexit, a smoother transition," noted Wilson at ETX.
The past year has seen plenty of surprises in Western politics following presidential victories for Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron in the United States and France respectively, while it is almost 12 months since Britain voted in favour of exiting the European Union.
"What happened in the US, the UK referendum, nothing is a surprise anymore," concluded Richard as he made his way to work in London on Friday feeling pessimistic.
"It is not a good news," he said.
Volatility eased as traders focused on the world economy and corporate earnings after a week dominated by the dramatic spike in tensions over North Korea, which triggered a global sell-off before prices bounced back Monday.
Investors greeted the more conciliatory tone after US stocks dropped three days in a row last week on President Donald Trump's vow of "fire and fury" if North Korea continued to pursue its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
The ultra-conservative kingdom has moved to diversify its traditionally oil-dependent economy following a sharp fall in crude prices.
In its monthly report on the global oil market, the International Energy Agency said, however, that it believes the supply glut is easing, partly because demand is growing faster.
US stocks have been in retreat since President Donald Trump Tuesday issued a fiery warning to North Korea to halt its nuclear program.
The move by one of Japan's best-known firms greatly reduces the chance of an embarrassing delisting from the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE).
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index weakened by 0.5 percent to 7,503.39 points.
The approval by the European Commission comes just over two months after the European Central Bank -- which took on the role of the eurozone's banking supervisor in 2014 -- allowed the sale to go ahead for a symbolic fee of one euro.
BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and Total have all published results in recent days, showing they pocketed $23 billion in net profit in the first half fo the year.
Higher cereal, sugar and dairy prices pushed food price index by 10.2 percent annually in July
HSBC was also a big riser, gaining three percent at £7.65 ($10, 8.5 euros) in late morning trade after the British banking giant announced a share buyback plan alongside a rise in first-half profits.
Both main crude contracts made strong gains, with WTI testing $50 a barrel for the first time since late May and Brent heading towards $53, while mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto saw their share price rise as commodities strengthened.