Truss-tastrophe! Markets Rise on PM Step-Down

Stocks are higher after Liz Truss said she would resign as U.K.'s prime minister following a short but eventful tenure.

Liz Truss
(Image credit: Getty Images)

U.S. stocks applauded the surprise resignation of Liz Truss as traders bet the exit of the shortest-serving prime minister in British history would restore a measure of calm to the U.K. currency and bond markets.

Truss said on Thursday she would resign as British prime minister, brought down just six weeks into the job by an economic program that shattered investor confidence and enraged much of her Conservative Party.

Speaking outside the door of her Number 10 Downing Street office, Truss accepted that she had lost the faith of her party and said she would step down next week.

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The move was an abrupt reversal for Truss, who said on Wednesday she was a "fighter and not a quitter." But the following day she told a mass of journalists gathered in Downing Street that she realized she could no longer deliver on the promises that won her the Conservative leadership.

"I have therefore spoken to His Majesty the King to notify him that I am resigning as leader of the Conservative Party," said Truss, who was supported only by her husband with her aides and loyal ministers noticeably absent.

A new leadership election will be completed by next Friday, Oct. 28. Those expected to run include former finance minister Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt, a former defense minister.

Truss's resignation ends a brief but inglorious chapter for the U.K. Her so-called "mini-budget" created chaos in the market for British government debt and sent the pound on a roller-coaster ride. 

Financial experts were unsparing in their criticism of Truss's short but eventful tenure, and what are expected to be deleterious and long-lasting consequences. 

"First her policies went up in flames, then her brief career as Prime Minister," noted Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. "The great political gamble of Liz Truss has spectacularly backfired but not before wreaking significant damage to the U.K. economy. It will take considerable time before the risk premium attached to U.K. assets fades away, following the financial nervous breakdown which followed the mini-budget."

British government bond prices rose on Thursday, although their gains were tempered by the prospect of another week of political upheaval as the Conservative Party chooses a successor to Truss.

How Stocks Are Reacting

U.S stock futures started in the red Thursday as news of Truss's resignation reverberated through global markets, and the major benchmarks did gap down at the open.

But markets on the American side of the Atlantic soon bounced back, with the major U.S. benchmarks rising sharply within the first hour of trading. The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average added more than 380 points at one point early in the session. The broader S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite tacked on similarly smart gains.

Strength in mega-cap tech stocks such as Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT) helped power markets higher, as did gains in (AMZN). Dow stock International Business Machines (IBM) rallied after the company reported better-than-expected quarterly results and raised its full-year outlook.

It's also the case that an encouraging start to what is forecast to be the worst earnings season since the height of COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 has given U.S. equities a tailwind in recent sessions. 

The market is also benefiting from technical strength, analysts say, although few are calling for a definitive end to our current bear market anytime soon.

The major indexes' initial reaction to the end of the Truss premiership appears to be one of good riddance to bad rubbish. But a state of bedlam persists in Britain. Instability at the top of the world's sixth largest economy will surely send out more shockwaves in the days, weeks and even months ahead. 

Reuters reporters Kate Holton, Farouq Suleiman, William James, Sachin Ravikumar, Kylie MacLellan, Elizabeth Piper, Andrew MacAskill, Muvija M and Andy Bruce contributed to this article.

Dan Burrows
Senior Investing Writer,

Dan Burrows is Kiplinger's senior investing writer, having joined the august publication full time in 2016.

A long-time financial journalist, Dan is a veteran of SmartMoney, MarketWatch, CBS MoneyWatch, InvestorPlace and DailyFinance. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Senior Executive and Boston magazine, and his stories have appeared in the New York Daily News, the San Jose Mercury News and Investor's Business Daily, among other publications. As a senior writer at AOL's DailyFinance, Dan reported market news from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and hosted a weekly video segment on equities.

Once upon a time – before his days as a financial reporter and assistant financial editor at legendary fashion trade paper Women's Wear Daily – Dan worked for Spy magazine, scribbled away at Time Inc. and contributed to Maxim magazine back when lad mags were a thing. He's also written for Esquire magazine's Dubious Achievements Awards.

In his current role at Kiplinger, Dan writes about equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, funds, macroeconomics, demographics, real estate, cost of living indexes and more.

Dan holds a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a master's degree from Columbia University.

Disclosure: Dan does not trade stocks or other securities. Rather, he dollar-cost averages into cheap funds and index funds and holds them forever in tax-advantaged accounts.