LONDON — The pound hit a two-year high against the euro and a two-week one against the dollar in early trading on Friday, following Scotland’s vote to remain part of the U.K. in a long-awaited referendum on Thursday.
The Scots’ decision to vote “No” to independence pushed the pound up to 1.27 euros and to $1.65 in Asian trading early Thursday morning following the announcement. By mid-morning in London, the currency was still at 1.27 euros, but fell back to $1.63.
The FTSE 100 was on the uptick mid-morning, climbing 0.7 percent to 6,867.98, after opening the day 0.6 percent higher.
Business leaders expressed relief at the result.
“This is a momentous day for our United Kingdom and this result will be greeted by a collective sigh of relief across the business community,” said John Cridland, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the lobbying organization. “Business has always believed that the Union is best for creating jobs, raising growth and improving living standards, and welcomes that the people of Scotland want to play an integral role in this internationally successful partnership.”
He said it’s now time to rebuild relationships outside the U.K. “to reassure international investors and other partners that we will emerge stronger and more confident in the months and years ahead.”
John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The people of Scotland have spoken. Their historic decision to remain part of the United Kingdom will be a relief to many businesspeople and a disappointment to others, but it was a decision for the Scottish people alone to make.”
He added: “We have been through a period of disruption. Creative disruption can be galvanizing to countries, just as it is to businesses. It is up to the leaders of our nations now to make sure this is the result. Our United Kingdom now has the opportunity to define a future direction that stimulates growth and prosperity as never before — and for us together to make our way in the world, firmly on our own two feet.”
The director of the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), David Lonsdale, said the vote will signal a new chapter for Scotland, which can now negotiate with the British government for greater powers, even as it remains part of the U.K.
This vote signals the start of a fresh chapter of devolution, with greater power and more economic responsibility for Holyrood [the Scottish parliament] and the Scottish government. The retail industry is the country’s largest private-sector employer … and the SRC and our members look forward to engaging constructively and positively to ensure that the further powers to be devolved are implemented in a sensible and cost-effective manner.”