Nine months of Brexit: The financial winners and losers as the Prime Minister triggers Article 50

 
Jasper Jolly
Follow Jasper
BRITAIN-EU-POLITICS-STOCKS-MARKETS-FTSE-STERLING
Brexit has created winners and losers (Source: Getty)

The vote to leave the EU on 23 June will be remembered as a turning point in Britain’s history. The trigger of Article 50 was the first step in making the Brexit vote a reality.

It has made its mark on markets in the last year as well. Here are some of the winners and losers as the process begins – nine months after the leave campaign triumphed.

Sterling

In the nine months since the Brexit referendum the biggest economic effect has undoubtedly been the fall in the value of sterling. The pound is roughly 17 per cent less valuable against the US dollar than at its peak before the result.

The effects of weaker sterling depend on your point of view: exporters have enjoyed a boost, as has anyone with foreign assets. Investors shorting the pound on 23 June would have made a pretty penny, but foreign investors holding cash will have been burnt.

FTSE investors

But what currency moves take away with one hand, they give with the other. Investors in London’s FTSE 100 have been a major beneficiary from the weaker pound, with the index rising by 16 per cent since 23 June.

The FTSE 100, stuffed full of multinationals, earns about three-quarters of its income overseas. Relatively cheaper UK-listed are more attractive to foreign buyers and their earnings are worth more.

Cash savers

Cash Isa rates have halved since the Brexit vote from 0.87 per cent to 0.43 per cent, according to Hargreaves Lansdown.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Despite rising inflation, weak wage growth means the Bank of England looks in no mood to raise interest rates any time soon, so cash savers are left in the uncomfortable position of watching their money decline in real terms.”

Bond investors (including pensioners)

The EU referendum led to the yield on UK government debt to plummet as investors rushed to safe-haven gilts.

Yields have recovered to pre-Brexit levels before dipping more recently, but the Bank of England’s resistance to tightening monetary policy even as inflation has the effect of eating away at the returns bond investors can make.

Big investors in the bond markets include pension funds, who have struggled to make returns since the global financial crisis as yields have remained stubbornly low.

Retailers and airlines

The resilience of the consumer since the referendum took most economists by surprise, and led to a flood of upward revisions in UK growth prospects. But there is little doubt inflation is here, and set to get higher.

As inflation threatens to eat into spending money investors have marked down the prospects of companies relying on households to part with their cash.

Retailer Next has seen more than a fifth of its share price value wiped off during the last nine months. But Easyjet has been the biggest loser, with shares more than a third less valuable.

Gold bugs

After the 23 June vote the price of gold shot up to reach its highest since early 2014, with widespread fears the result would lead to financial market chaos. The panic proved unfounded, with gold gradually slipping from August heights.

Then the election of Donald Trump as US President took over, and the desire to buy safe havens evaporated in the rush to catch the wave of equity buying he prompted.

After massive fluctuations since then gold buyers are down – by a tiny 0.59 per cent.

Brexit isn't the only game in town.

Related articles