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The broadcasters’ exit poll is predicting a thumping majority for Boris Johnson in the UK general election, and the party’s best performance since under Margaret Thatcher in 1987.

The Conservative Party is projected to win 368 seats, to Labour’s 191 seats. The pound shot up to its highest level since June 2018 against the dollar following the exit poll as traders were reassured by the prospect of a Tory majority.

The first official results are expected to be declared around 11pm GMT, most likely from the seats in the Sunderland or Newcastle local authorities, which have been first to declare in all general elections since 1992.

Ahead of the election, economists diverged widely over prospects for recession or growth depending on the result of the election. Our FT Money writers and experts reviewed the key policies on personal tax, pay, pensions and property to determine what the results could mean for your personal finances.

If you seek additional reading to pass the time before the final results are called in the early hours of UK’s morning, check out this story on how LBC, a London-based radio station, has won listeners throughout the campaign by embracing confrontation.

More insight in our Brexit Election Briefing and UK Politics newsletters, which are both publishing a special edition on Saturday. 

We’ve made our UK election coverage page free to read so everyone — not only FT subscribers — can keep up with all the news. Simply visit ft.com/ukelection to follow live updates and analysis.

In the news

Trump says US-China trade deal ‘very close’ President Donald Trump said a deal with China to pause the trade war between the world’s two largest economies was “very close”, propelling the US equity market to a record high. China, however, is staying tight-lipped on the matter. (FT, South China Morning Post) 

Saudi Aramco touches $2tn valuation The state oil group’s shares rose 10 per cent, pushing the valuation above $2tn on its second day of trading. A $2tn valuation for the company has long been sought by Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Riyadh has worked to backstop the flotation to ensure its success. (FT)

A trader talks to others in front of a screen displaying Saudi stock market values at the Arab National Bank in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. Shares in Saudi Aramco gained on the second day of trading Thursday, propelling the oil and gas company to a more than $2 trillion valuation where it holds the title of the world's most valuable listed company. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
The company raised $25.6bn, making it the world’s largest initial public offering © Amr Nabil/AP

ECB holds rates at record low Christine Lagarde set out her vision for the European Central Bank after her first rate-setting meeting as president, committing to maintain her predecessor Mario Draghi’s ultra-loose policy while sounding a more upbeat economic tone. (FT) 

US lawmakers debate articles of impeachment Members of the House judiciary committee, strongly divided among party lines, began a marathon session to consider two articles of impeachment brought by Democrats. A final approval, expected Thursday evening, will send the charges to the full House for a vote. (Associated Press) 

EU vows to toughen trade laws after WTO’s partial collapse The EU’s trade policy chief has vowed that Brussels will still be able to hit other countries’ exports with punitive tariffs despite the partial collapse of the World Trade Organization’s dispute-settlement system. More on the WTO’s appellate body becoming inquorate in Trade Secrets, our must-read daily briefing for the latest on international trade and globalisation. Sign up here.

Israel faces third election Israel faces an unprecedented third general election in a year after incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu and challenger Benny Gantz (below) were unable to form a coalition by a midnight deadline. In Spain, caretaker prime minister Pedro Sánchez received royal assent to form the country’s first modern coalition government after November’s repeat election. (FT)

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, center, talks during a Knesset session in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The Israeli parliament began voting to dissolve itself on Wednesday and pave the path to an unprecedented third election within a year. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Benny Gantz, top, talks with members of his Blue and White group in the Knesset on Wednesday © AP

New Jersey shooting investigated as domestic terrorism Law enforcement officials announced on Thursday they are investigating the deadly shooting at a kosher deli as an incident of domestic terrorism and a hate crime. The suspects are believed to have been motivated by anti-Semitic and anti-law enforcement beliefs. (NJ.com)

Banks worry of roiling China Some leading Wall Street and European banks are avoiding mentions of Hong Kong’s anti-government protests in the research they supply to clients, out of fears they will upset Beijing and risk an increasingly important source of revenue. (FT) 

Weinstein settlement reached Harvey Weinstein and his bankrupt film studio have agreed in principle a $45m settlement with a group of women who accused him of sexual assault, potentially ending nearly all civil lawsuits against the disgraced movie mogul. Mr Weinstein, who will be tried on sexual assault charges in New York in January, would not be required to admit wrongdoing or pay anything to his accusers himself. (FT, New York Times)

US Democrats announced how many impeachment charges against President Donald Trump this week? One? Two? Five? Take our quiz.

Moral Money special edition 

There are not many people who have caused as many waves in the global environmental, social and governance landscape in 2019 as Hiro Mizuno, chief investment officer of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund. The FT’s Billy Nauman and Leo Lewis spoke with Mr Mizuno for a special edition of Moral MoneySign up here for more on socially responsible business, sustainable finance, and ESG trends. 

The day ahead

Tariff deadline Much of next year’s outlook for central banks hinges on negotiations between the US and China on trade. There is an important unofficial deadline this coming Sunday when the US plans to impose another round of levies, which could have a “chilling effect” on consumer industries. (FT, BBC)

US retail sales Data out on Friday are expected to show a gain of 0.4 per cent in November, from a rise of 0.3 per cent in October. (FT) 

What else we’re reading

Age of the avatar They have millions of fans and big endorsements — but these “virtual celebrities” don’t actually exist. State of the art 3D rendering is powering a fast expanding universe of computer-generated influencers who are gaining an unlikely foothold in the real world. Soon, you may even have one of your own. (FT)

HK protesters need a leader now more than ever There is no question that a large section of the protest movement is rapidly radicalising, writes the FT’s Asia editor Jamil Anderlini. The time has now come for some introspection. This leaderless movement needs to find a leader; one who can eschew violence in favour of non-violent direct action. Meanwhile, new records show that the city’s police directed subway interruptions on days of major protests. Railway employees previously said they didn’t see a technical reason for the early shutdowns. (FT, BuzzFeed) 

Asia’s fintech revolution Never mind tariffs and quotas — the animating ingredient of the US-China great power contest is the race for digital primacy, Philip Stephens writes. Financial technology is having a transformative effect across Asia, as millions of consumers embrace “superapps” that pose a threat to traditional banks — and offer models that could be adopted elsewhere. (FT)

web_Technology race
© Ingram Pinn/Financial Times

Can consumer spending overcome corporate gloom? The so-called “consumer comfort” index (a sentiment and financial indicators indicator) has been running above 60 per cent, a near historic high. But there is a catch: chief executives appear to have a different view, writes the FT’s Gillian Tett. As Gary Cohn, former White House adviser, said last week, “Companies are not spending money in America.” The unusual, stark split highlights a bigger mystery and question: are consumers or CEOs creating the most momentum in America now? (FT) 

Couples — and company founders “Any start-up experience is going to be pretty intense,” but spouses who run a company together say they have to work even harder to keep investors on their side. Here are some practical lessons from partners in life and business. (FT)

Bloomberg’s huge plutocratic gamble They say money cannot buy elections (or love). Michael Bloomberg is putting that to the test. Can the White House be bought? New York billionaire’s Democratic campaign is a long shot but not an impossible one, writes the FT’s Edward Luce. Plus, meet Patti Harris, the hidden hand behind Mr Bloomberg’s campaign. (FT, Politico) 

Binge watching the WeWork saga Succession actor Nicholas Braun will take on the role of the eccentric WeWork founder Adam Neumann in an upcoming television series about the property group that fell from grace. The show will be based on a forthcoming book from Wall Street Journal reporters Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell. (Hollywood Reporter) 

Tech Scroll Asia 

Paytm, Asia’s most valuable tech unicorn outside of China, is hitting stiff headwinds. The Indian digital payments start-up, which is valued at $16bn and backed by Japan’s SoftBank and China’s Ant Financial, is not only haemorrhaging cash but also failing to win a strong following on India’s state-run payments platform. More in Tech Scroll Asia, our weekly newsletter on the billions being made and lost in the world of Asia Tech. Sign up here

Video of the day

How Indonesia’s ride-hailing apps transformed everyday life They started out as Uber copycats but Grab and Gojek have changed everyday life for Indonesians with their payment technology. Mercedes Ruehl from Tech Scroll Asia looks at how the two multibillion-dollar companies have moved from ride-hailing into banking.

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