Stocks, property, bonds, the pound: Here’s what a new Labour government means for investing in the UK

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General view of Bishopsgate in the City of London, the capital’s financial district. The UK economy has reportedly seen faster growth than initially estimated in early 2024.

Vuk Valcic | Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

The U.K.’s Labour Party won big in Thursday’s election and is now set to take over from the Conservatives after 14 years, at a time when economic uncertainty is still rife in the country.

Britain’s FTSE 100 index was seen rising 25 points to 8,262 when it opens Friday morning, and the British pound made only light gains. The currency was up just 0.06% and 0.03% against the U.S. dollar and euro at 6:28 a.m. London time, respectively, after little movement on Thursday evening.

Interest rates remain elevated in the U.K. as the central bank has battled high inflation following the Covid-19 slowdown.

The two main political parties ran on different economic and financial manifestos during the election campaign that would likely have different consequences for the investing environment.

The Labour party’s pledge, for example, to increase taxes on the compensation that private equity fund managers received raised a few eyebrows, and led to questions on what this could mean more broadly.

Speaking to CNBC, a selection of experts weigh in on the potential impact the change of government could have on U.K. investment.

Stock markets

Equity markets overall are unlikely to react strongly to the election outcome, but some individual stocks and sectors could be impacted, experts said.

“The truth about elections is that, the vast majority of the time, markets don’t really care,” James McManus, chief investment officer at Nutmeg told CNBC. “Historical data shows us that elections and their results rarely move markets when the expected outcome is delivered.”

Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, broadly echoed McManus’ comments in a note published this week, but added that there could be some impact on the economy.

“A widely predicted Labour win in the UK could usher in an era of greater stability for the UK … which should help bolster investor sentiment towards the UK,” she said.

In recent years the U.K.’s political landscape has been characterized by frequent leadership changes, which at times have led to market turmoil — especially during former PM Liz Truss’ brief premiership.

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Some sectors — and therefore specific stocks — could also be affected, Streeter pointed out. Pressure could be added to the utilities sector as Labour plans to increase fines for water companies which are already being weighed down by high costs. Meanwhile, the party’s pledge to boost the country’s defense budget could see U.K. airspace stocks benefit from additional spending on new technology and equipment.

Property markets and housing

Plans from all parties to build more houses could impact the property and housing sector, Richard Donnell, executive director for research at Zoopla, told CNBC.

“Investors would welcome this focus on home building,” he said. “What investors want is more focus on housing and delivering the homes the nation needs and leveraging in as much private investment as possible to create an attractive investment for more capital and to support the ambitions of the new Government.”

Some housebuilding stocks may also see a boost due to Labour’s plans to build new, affordable homes, Hargreaves Lansdown noted.

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Wider economic developments will however also be a factor, according to Nutmeg’s McManus. As interest rates are set to fall, so will mortgage rates, which could lead to more people buying or selling homes, he said adding that this could also have knock-on effects for other businesses like furniture and DIY shops.

RBC’s head of European capital goods research told CNBC’s Silvia Amaro Friday that the house building sector stands to be a major beneficiary of the Labour Party’s landslide victory.

“It’s front and center great for house builders, great for the wider building supply sector, bricks,” Mark Fielding said, pointing to two driving factors. “Two big factors: firstly a return to mandated targets for house building supporting 1.5 million new homes over the next five years, which would be a big positive, and secondly hopes on planning reforms, targeting to get that done.”

That will in turn allow for faster planning processes and potentially for additional central government intervention to press ahead with more house approvals, according to Fielding, who noted that investor focus will otherwise now narrow on the Labour Party’s ability to deliver on broader economic growth.

“U.K. bank stocks in the end are one of the biggest proxies for U.K. economic growth,” he said.

The British pound

Strategists and economists predict the British pound will not be impacted strongly by the election.

If results are as expected, attention will shift away from the U.K. election quickly, Shreyas Gopal, strategist, and Sanjay Raja, senior economist at Deutsche Bank, said in a note published Wednesday.

“For EUR/GBP, this then means turning attention to the election across the channel [in France], and then the forthcoming UK data in mid-July that will determine whether the BoE are able to pull the trigger on a first rate cut in early August,” they said.

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In the longer-term, there are also not “huge risks” for the pound under a Labour government, Francesco Pesole, FX strategist at ING, told CNBC. Potential renegotiations of Brexit deals would, if anything, be more pro-growth under Labour, and risks of excessive government spending are also low, he explained.

But the pound could still be on course for a difficult time, Pesole suggested.

 “We see the pound depreciating against the euro in the next 24 months primarily on the back of our view for larger Bank of England cuts compared to the ECB,” he said. Higher taxes in the U.K. could also weaken its currency — but those would likely come regardless of the election outcome, according to Pesole.

Bond markets

Bond markets have so far not appeared reactive to potential new policies under Labour, Hargreaves Lansdown’s Streeter said in a second note published earlier this week.

During the campaign, Labour economy spokeswoman Rachel Reeves suggested that there could be changes to government borrowing rules in an effort to boost growth and investment. But the bond market’s focus seems to be elsewhere, Streeter said.

“So far, this doesn’t seem to have perturbed the debt markets, with bond investors appearing to be more sensitive to interest rate speculation than the investment plans of an incoming government,” she said.

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