We asked 12 experts to predict what the FTSE and sterling will do the day before the EU referendum

 
Jake Cordell
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Currency markets have seen a lot of activity in the run-up to the EU referendum on 23 June
Currency markets have seen a lot of activity in the run-up to the EU referendum on 23 June (Source: Getty)

Sterling will fall against the dollar and the FTSE 100 will slip back as the UK edges closer to the EU referendum, a dozen leading economists and market analysts have told City A.M.

With the pound shooting up and crashing down in response to every new piece of referendum news - especially the opinion polls - markets are pricing in unprecedented levels of volatility after the vote. Whatever the outcome, experts believe sterling will respond.

However, a group of 12 experts from think tanks, currency brokers, investment companies and business groups polled by City A.M. have predicted the pound will fall more than three per cent in the run-up to the vote alone.

The experts were asked to call what the pound will close at against the US dollar, the euro and the level of the FTSE 100 just hours before the polls open.

City A.M. poll: Sterling-Dollar exchange rate on 22 June

Value
Median forecast $1.40
Lowest forecast $1.37
Highest forecast $1.45
Today's rate $1.4447

The group predicted the pound will close at $1.40 on 22 June - the day before the vote - a three per cent fall over the next 13 days.

Douglas McWilliams, president of the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) was the most pessimistic, predicting the pound would plunge to $1.37, while CMC Markets’ Michael Hewson was the most optimistic, expecting the pound to hold up at $1.45.

City A.M. poll: Sterling-Euro exchange rate on 22 June

Value
Median forecast €1.265
Highest forecast €1.31
Lowest forecast €1.19
Today's rate €1.2773

The stock markets have proved less susceptible to wild gyrations in response to referendum news. However, the average guess is that the FTSE 100 will drop by around 120 points - two per cent - in the next two weeks to close at 6,060 on 22 June. The range of estimates for where the index will end up was between 5,890 (Madsen Pirie, Adam Smith Institute) to 6,313 (Jeremy Cook, World First).

The consensus view is that Remain would eventually come out on top, with only two of the 12 forecasting the Leave side to secure the most votes on 23 June. However, it is predicted to be a close-run fight, with the median guess that Remain would win by a margin of 54 per cent to 46 per cent.

Read more: Twelve reasons Britain is better off remaining a member of the EU

City A.M. poll: FTSE 100 close on 22 June

Index
Median forecast 6,060
Highest forecast 6,313
Lowest forecast 5,890
Today's level 6,173

Simon French, chief economist at Panmure Gordon, said he expected volatility to rise ahead of polling day as "markets have been complacent in recent weeks".

He added: "Migration is Remain’s Achilles' heel and I expect Vote Leave to leverage this effectively. UK market volatility is set to pick up against this backdrop."

Madsen Pirie of the Adam Smith Institute agreed that volatility will jump, especially if the Leave side looked like they can triumph: "As it becomes clear that Brexit might win, people will sell pounds and UK shares to hedge against an anticipated short-term drop in both".

Read more: What time will the EU referendum result be announced?

Michael Martins of the Institute of Directors advised to "watch out for bellwethers like manufacturing output and hiring and investment decisions, along with youth labour market statistics which are often the first to feel the pinch during economic uncertainty".

Some, however, believed volatility had run its course and expected the markets to remain calm before 23 June.

"The market expects volatility to rise from current levels, but I don’t foresee any big surprises before the vote. The arguments are well worn and much of the fear is already factored in," said Adam Laird of Hargreaves Lansdown.

Diego Zuluaga of the Institute of Economic Affairs said he expected the Remain side to streak ahead as the vote approaches, which should hold back any sustained increases in volatility.

The brave forecasters: In full

Name £-$ £-€ FTSE 100
Douglas McWilliams, CEBR $1.37 €1.27 6,000
Madsen Pirie, Adam Smith Institute $1.385 €1.19 5,890
Diego Zuluaga, Institute for Economic Affairs $1.39 €1.25 5,970
Michael Martins, Institute of Directors $1.39 €1.25 5,950
Russ Mould, AJ Bell $1.40 €1.26 6,200
Simon French, Panmure Gordon $1.40 €1.28 6,050
Andy Parsons, The Share Centre $1.41 €1.24 6,088
Caxton FX $1.415 €1.26 6,050
Samuel Tombs, Pantheon Macroeconomics $1.42 €1.27 6,100
Jeremy Cook, World First $1.425 €1.298 6,313
Adam Laird, Hargreaves Lansdown $1.44 €1.29 6,210
Michael Hewson, CMC Markets $1.45 €1.31 6,070

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