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The historic referendum  deciding  whether Scotland should be become an  independent country happens September 18th. The results are expected after the US markets close and before London opens. This means  that the foreign exchange market is the best place to be for seeing and perhaps trading on the news as they break – news which is critical for the future of the UK and the next moves of the British pound.  

Here is a potential timetable for the events:

Updates:

Scotland  officially rejects independence – GBP/USD sells the fact.

 

 

All times here are GMT, which is one hour behind British Summer Time (BST).

  • 6:00 Voting  begins. The media coverage of the event  reaches a new peak and  every move of the pound becomes related to rumors regarding the vote, turnout percentages, last minute declarations from politicians, etc. Note that the turnout is expected to be very high in all regions.  The release of British retail sales numbers is likely to be ignored, and so are the echoes from the previous day’s FOMC meeting (see the quick preview).
  • 21:00 Voting ends.  In most election campaigns, this is the time that TV  networks publish the exit polls.  At this time, I have been unable to confirm the existence of exit polls, but this is quite likely. The  article will be updated.  If the exit polls show a clear  direction, an immediate and sharp reaction is expected. If the exit polls match the  opinion polls which show it is “too close to call”, we can expect very choppy and wild moves. This is when forex liquidity is at its lowest: US markets are closed and only New Zealand and Australia are open. Thin liquidity + big news = wild action. Remember that  a No vote is more priced in than a Yes vote.
  • September 19th, from around  01:00 to around 5:00 Real results are expected to begin flowing in. This is when the bigger drama begins as we are expected to get updates every few minutes. There are 32 local authorities and each one reports the time separately. See the image below for a predicted timetable of announcements from the different regions. The Tokyo session also comes into play, as well as stock markets in Asia.  The Guardian notes  that  the three regions estimated to be announcing their results last account for 25% of the electorate.
  • 5:30 – 6:30  This is when the official result is expected to be  published in  a press conference by Mary Pitcaithly. Even if the result is already known, the impact of the official statement could have a major impact as well, just as traders in London arrive at their desks. The full reaction to the  results is expected then, when liquidity is at its highest.

Here are the predicted times  of announcements of different regions, in BST, that come from the Press Association, combined with a ranking of the potential of a Yes vote, from  Nicola, a Yes supporter. Click the image to see the full image.

Scottish regions referendum announcement times of 32 local regions

These are the main times to watch. If you have additional information or corrections, please let me via the comments section or via the contact form.

A recount will be announced on a regional level, only if there are complains. A close race does not imply a recount of the whole vote according to the rules.

More:

In our latest podcast,  we discuss the Scottish referendum among other topics:

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