UK sterling falls, Asian shares higher as investors watch Britain vote

Regional stock markets were mostly higher as investors shrugged off uncertainties.

Tokyo: The pound slumped in Asian trading Friday on early signs that Britain's ruling Conservatives would have a weaker than expected showing in the country's election, but regional stock markets were mostly higher as investors shrugged off uncertainties.

Keeping score: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.9 percent to 20,089.90 in morning trading, while South Korea's Kospi rose 0.8 percent to 2,382.64. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.2 percent at 5,687.70. Hong Kong's Hang Seng inched down nearly 0.1 percent to 26,043.80. The Shanghai Composite added 0.4 percent to 3,163.00.

British polls: Exit polls for the general election forecast that the Conservatives would fall short of a majority in parliament, raising the prospect that the country might not have a clear winner or strong government as it starts its negotiations to leave the European Union.

Currencies: The pound lost more than 2 cents versus the dollar seconds after the exit poll results were released, plunging from $1.2955 to $1.2752. It continued to bounce around that level and was recently trading at $1.2764. The dollar fell to 110.27 yen from 109.90 yen late Thursday in Asia. The euro weakened to $1.1196 from $1.255.

The quote: "The possibility of a reduced Conservative majority or even a minority government is unlikely to have a significant impact on broader global markets," says Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets. "At this stage it is unclear what, if any, impact this will have on Brexit negotiations."

Wall Street: Financial companies led U.S. stock indexes higher Thursday, nudging the Nasdaq composite index to a record high. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 0.65 points, or 0.03 percent, to 2,433.79. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 8.84 points, or 0.04 percent, to 21,182.53. The Nasdaq added 24.38 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,321.76.

Testimony watch: Markets have also been closely watching former FBI Director James Comey testify before U.S. Congress as part of the investigation into Russian meddling into the presidential election. Comey told Congress that President Donald Trump's administration spread "lies" about him and the FBI after his abrupt firing in May.

Energy: Benchmark U.S. crude inched up 2 cents to $45.66 a barrel. It wavered for much of the day before sliding 8 cents to settle at $45.64 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 1 cent to $47.85 per barrel in London.

( Source : AP )
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