With just days to go before the UK general election, all eyes are on the stock market for clues to which way prices might move once the result is known.

After three and a half years of uncertainty since the EU referendum, the biggest questions surround Brexit, and whether the result will make things clearer. There’s a view that Brexit turmoil has put the brakes on big decisions by corporates and consumers alike. So, will the Conservatives win a majority and “get Brexit done”? Will Labour defy the polls and introduce a new agenda for Brexit and business? Or will a coalition government emerge and bring with it all manner of uncertainty?

There are also wider questions about how the market will react to some of the policies on offer. In many ways, the Tory manifesto promises more of the same, together with pledges on infrastructure spending, house building and progress on a new free trade agreement with the EU. That’s likely to soothe investors, but the outcome of Brexit looks likely to remain a big uncertainty.

Labour’s manifesto offers some rather more dramatic changes - some of which contain at least a kernel of common sense. But it’s likely that pledges on nationalisation, higher corporation tax and windfall taxes on oil and gas companies won’t go down well with investors. Labour’s pledge to renegotiate the Brexit withdrawal bill and hold a new referendum on it, might increase the chances of no-Brexit, but it would also prolong the uncertainty.

Right now, there’s evidence that the outcome of the election itself is the most pressing issue in the minds of investors. A survey by Interactive Investor found that its customers were more concerned about who will win the election rather than what will happen with Brexit (44% versus 32%). A third of their customers said they were not investing in anything until the outcome of the vote is known.

Meanwhile, 43% of respondents said they were increasing their cash holdings but an equally large proportion (45%) said they were sticking with their investment strategy whatever the political weather.

Are indices sensing a Tory win?

In terms of trends in the main share indices, there are signs that the market is sensing a result. Interpreting short-term gyrations is tricky, but the FTSE 250 index has clearly broken free from the large-cap FTSE…

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