Pound falls, Asian shares higher as investors watch UK vote

The pound slumped in Friday's trading as soon as signs emerged that Britain's ruling Conservatives will have a weaker-than-expected showing in the country's election. Global stock markets were mostly higher as investors shrugged off uncertainties.

KEEPING SCORE: France's CAC 40 added 0.5 percent in early trading to 5,292.66, while Germany's DAX rose 0.5 percent to 12,770.25. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.8 percent to 7,509.52. U.S. shares were also set to drift higher, with Dow futures up 0.2 percent at 21,172. S&P 500 futures were also up 0.2 percent at 2,433.90.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.5 percent to finish at 20,013.26, while South Korea's Kospi rose 0.8 percent to 2,381.69. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was little changed, inching up less than 0.1 percent at 5,677.80. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.1 percent to 26,030.29. The Shanghai Composite added 0.3 percent to 3,158.40.

BRITISH POLLS: The Conservative Party lost its majority in Parliament and pressure is mounting on British Prime Minister Theresa May to resign. The results could send Britain's negotiations to leave the European Union — due to start June 19 — into disarray.

CURRENCIES: The pound lost more than 2 cents versus the dollar seconds after the exit poll results were released, plunging from $1.2955 to $1.2752. It continued to bounce around that level and was recently trading at $1.2721. The dollar fell to 110.36 yen from 109.90 yen late Thursday in Asia. The euro weakened to $1.1182 from $1.255.

THE QUOTE: "The possibility of a reduced Conservative majority or even a minority government is unlikely to have a significant impact on broader global markets," says Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets. "At this stage it is unclear what, if any, impact this will have on Brexit negotiations."

TESTIMONY WATCH: Markets have also been closely watching former FBI Director James Comey testify before U.S. Congress as part of the investigation into Russian meddling into the presidential election. Comey told Congress that President Donald Trump's administration spread "lies" about him and the FBI after his abrupt firing in May.

ROBOT WATCH: SoftBank stock surged 7 percent after it announced it was acquiring Boston Dynamics from Alphabet, Google's parent. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but the Japanese internet, technology and solar company, which offers the Pepper companion robot, said that the purchase shows robotics is a key part of its business.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 20 cents to $45.84 a barrel. It wavered for much of the day before sliding 8 cents to settle at $45.64 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 15 cents to $48.01 per barrel in London.


Yuri Kageyama can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

Her work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/yuri%20kageyama