In our view, equity markets were partially pricing in a Yes outcome. Although most polls indicated a No was more likely, some had started to point the other way. Therefore, we believe there could be a small relief rally in the UK equity market over the coming days. In particular, the most heavily Scottish exposed stocks, such as the banks, utilities and energy, could start to trade at less discounted prices.
However, we expect the rebound to be relatively muted and short-lived. We remain underweight the UK equity market given its weaker earnings trends in part due to the drag from the strong pound on a highly international index which generates over 75 percent of its revenues outside the UK. For investors holding strategic UK equity allocations we recommend tilting toward value stocks, which typically fare well in the months ahead of an interest rate hike.
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On the economic front, it should be a return to business as usual for the UK. Leading indicators still point to the economy growing strongly in the second half of this year, unemployment should fall further, and wages should start to rise. In our view, this should be enough to encourage the Bank of England to raise interest rates at some point in the fourth quarter.
With the Scottish question passed for now at least, the focus for the UK political parties is now likely to turn to the 2015 general election, which is scheduled for May 7. We expect that a significant amount of parliamentary time will be taken up formulating the terms of Scottish -- and now English, Welsh and Northern Ireland -- devolution, but this is unlikely to detract from the government's stated aim of reducing the deficit, at least for the remainder of this parliament.
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Meanwhile, Scotland's relationship with the rest of the union has certainly been altered, as has the political landscape of the UK. Cameron has pledged to answer questions about the authority of Scottish MPs to vote on matters concerning the rest of the UK. This could influence the direction of fiscal policy over coming years. If the Labour Party were to gain a narrow majority at the next general election, with a high proportion of their MPs in Scottish constituencies, this could mean that they may not have the ability to legislate on matters relating to England, for instance.
In the U.K., investors' worries about the Scottish secession will have extended beyond their portfolios. Their concerns are now largely assuaged. Now, investors in the UK must avoid getting caught up in the headlines and contemplate tactics that will pay dividends beyond the referendum. Remaining overweight British pounds and underweight UK equities would seem to be a sound approach.
Mark Haefele is global chief investment officer at UBS Wealth Management and Bill O'Neill is head of the UK investment office at UBS Wealth Management.