An eerie calm descended across the markets on Monday as traders and investors held their collective nerves before the announcement of the next prime minister.
A quiet day ended with the FTSE 100 barely moving, closing up 6.23 points at 7,514.93 – moving less than 0.1%.
The pound wobbled lower, down 0.21% or 0.003 at 1.2478 dollars, and was down against the euro by 0.17% or 0.002 at 1.1127 euros.
Nerves could deepen as the week goes on, and Boris Johnson starts to make his mark as prime minister, namely by forming what will likely be a hard Brexit-leaning CabinetConnor Campbell, SpreadEx
One of the few areas which saw some movement was the oil markets, where a barrel of Brent Crude rose 1.47% to 63.39 dollars a barrel.
The rise was put down to tensions in the Gulf between Iran and the UK over the seizure of oil tankers. However, a barrel of oil is still trading some way off the recent July highs of 67.01 dollars a barrel.
Connor Campbell, financial analysts at SpreadEx explained why the pound has not fallen further.
He said: “The currency (is) displaying a mild nervousness ahead of tomorrow’s Tory leadership race results. Those nerves could deepen as the week goes on, and Boris Johnson starts to make his mark as prime minister, namely by forming what will likely be a hard Brexit-leaning cabinet.”
One theory for the jitters and lack of movement is that whether Mr Johnson or Jeremy Hunt end up as the next prime minister, they will almost certainly increase spending, which could benefit the markets.
But it is countered by the latest economic forecasts – from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research – which said the UK is likely to already be in a recession.
On European markets there was a bit more enthusiasm with the French Cac closing up 0.26% and the German Dax up 0.24%.
David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “Traders have high hopes of a dovish update from the European Central Bank this week, and a rate cut from the Fed next week, and that has lifted sentiment.
“There is speculation the ECB will either cut interest rates on Thursday, or they will drop hints about looser monetary policy to be delivered in the next few months. Seeing as the Fed are widely expected to reveal some sort of interest cut later this month, the ECB might get out in front of them and move first, in a bid to soften the euro in advance of any potential Fed easing.”
In company news, shares in Ted Baker soared 113p, or 13.5%, to 951p after reports that the brand’s founder is planning to take it off the stock market with a takeover.
BT agreed a deal to move into a headquarters in Aldgate, east London, after the £210 million sale of its current base. Shares closed down 1.96p at 187.02p – primarily due to news from regulator Ofcom that could ban excessively long contracts for mobile operators such as BT’s EE business.
The biggest riser on the FTSE 100 was struggling travel firm Tui, up 37p at 841p, thanks to an upgrade from analysts at Stifel, who said recent doom mongering had been overplayed.
It was followed by Persimmon, up 56p to 2030p, DS Smith, up 9.8p to 367p, Just Eat, up 14.6p at 640.8p, and Ocado, up 25.5p at 1,220p.
The biggest faller was Whitbread, down 217p to 4,685p, as investors were told the Premier Inn owner had completed a programme to return £2.5 billion to shareholders after it sold its Costa Coffee chain to Coca-Cola last year.
It was followed by ITV, down 3.2p at 107p, Centrica, down 1.98p at 88.28p, DCC, down 122p at 6,762p, and Morrisons, down 3.7p at 205.7p.