LONDON: The weeks before and after Easter are usually some of the busiest of the year for bankers, lawyers and consultants in the City of London, as clients rush to get deals done before a run of public holidays.
But this year comparatively little has been happening, report agencies.City workers had been hoping the torpor of the first quarter would be lifted if Britain left the European Union on March 29, or indeed, April 12.
But with Brexit on ice until as late as October 31 and the terms of the exit still to be agreed, fears are building that this could be one of the leanest years for the City since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
The London Stock Exchange has had only one corporate listing in excess of £75 million (Dh357m) so far this year. Trading turnover on the London Stock Exchange in February and March was down a third from a year ago, and the lowest since August 2016.
Average daily turnover on London's blue chip FTSE 100 stock index fell harder in those two months than all the main bourses in Europe except the DAX 30, according to a Reuters analysis of Refinitiv data.
European investment banking fees - the biggest chunk of which are earned in London - were down 25 per cent in the first quarter, according to Refinitiv. And there were just 11 new UK-based hedge funds launched in the first quarter, compared to 35 in the same quarter in 2018, data from Prequin shows.
"There is going to be a long hiatus. Investors will need to see something far more positive in politics to be persuaded to move again," Alastair Winter, economic adviser to Global Alliance Partners told Reuters."I can't see how Labour and Conservatives can agree a deal. They are playing games to avoid blame. And until they figure it out, the City will be left to just twist in the wind."
Recruitment firm Morgan McKinley's latest London Employment Monitor, which tracks financial services hiring trends from January to March, showed vacancies and job seekers dropping 9 per cent and 15 per cent respectively year-on-year.