Britain's FTSE 100 fell sharply and the pound surged the most in three months after the country's High Court ruled that lawmakers must vote to trigger the clause that will launch its exit from the European Union.
The pound gained more than 1.1% against the U.S. dollar immediately following the ruling, its biggest one-day rise since August, to trade at 1.2441, the highest in nearly a month. The FTSE 100, however, which derives more than 75% of its revenue from outside the U.K., fell quickly in the aftermath of the decision, giving back earlier gains to trade 0.51% lower at 6812.3.
However, U.K. bank stocks, which have suffered since the June 23 vote on concern that some would lose their ability to sell financial services into the eurozone, rose sharply, with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) gaining 5.5%, Lloyds Banking (LYG) adding 3.15% and Barclays (BCS) advancing 2.8%.
Broader European shares added to modest gains and were quoted marginally higher across the board after the High Court ruling. Sentiment, however, is still being held back by political risk concerns as narrow U.S. election polls overshadowed trading in Asia following the worst losing streak for the S&P 500 in over five years.
One of the more significant downside movers in early trading were shares of Credit Suisse (CS) , which fell by around 4.9% in Zurich after the Swiss lender's CEO warned of "challenging" conditions in the months ahead.