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Be careful what you play for must be the words ringing in the ears of UK Prime Minister David Cameron as he stares into the barrel of a ‘Brexit’ victory. The bookies and Pound pointed to a ‘Bremain’ win yesterday, but if we are honest, it’s not been a year for the bookmakers (Leicester City). The polls currently show 51 percent in the ‘Leave’ camp, and the fallout is expected to be massive. The optimism from yesterday has been wiped out as the South African Rand immediately slid 6 percent, leading losses among commodity-exporting nations, while the Sterling lost 10 percent against the Euro, the largest decline since it was introduced. And this is only the beginning, the economic damage may be more pronounced. There must also be concerns that this points to a new dangerous era of spiteful politics – not just for Britain but for the whole of the West? – Stuart Lowman
By James Regan and Adam Haigh
Global markets buckled, with stocks plunging from Tokyo to London and Chicago, as the BBC projected a victory for the “Leave” campaign with most votes counted in Britain’s referendum on membership of the European Union. The pound fell the most on record, while haven assets jumped.
Sterling tumbled 10 percent, the euro slid by the most since it was introduced in 1999 and the yen had its biggest surge since 1998. South Africa’s rand led losses among the currencies of commodity-exporting nations, sliding more than 6 percent as oil sank to about $47 a barrel and industrial metals slumped. Gold soared with U.S. Treasuries as investors piled into haven assets. Futures on the FTSE 100 Index plunged with S&P 500 Index contracts as Asian stocks dropped by the most in five years.
“Brexit is now the base case,” said Matthew Sherwood, head of investment strategy at Perpetual Ltd. in Sydney, which manages about $21 billion. “Investors are just trying to get out. You sell first and ask questions later. There was a massive miscalculation of risk and now you’re seeing all that unwind.
The pound was down 10 percent at $1.3361 as of 12:54 p.m. in Tokyo. It climbed above $1.50 for the first time since December in early trading before sliding as low as $1.3305, its weakest level since 1985.
The euro slumped 3.8 percent, while currencies in Norway, Sweden and Turkey posted even steeper losses. South Africa’s rand tumbled 7.3 percent, leading declines in emerging markets.
Japan’s currency surged 6.1 percent to 100.03 per dollar, its biggest jump since 1998. Against the pound, it jumped by a record 15 percent.
“All hell is breaking loose,” says Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist in Singapore at Mizuho Bank Ltd. “The only surefire is you buy yen, you buy U.S. Treasuries, you buy gold, and you sit tight.”
Futures on the FTSE 100 sank 7.5 percent, while contracts on the S&P 500 were down 4.9 percent. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 3.5 percent, with Japan’s Topix falling 6.7 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 4.8 percent as benchmarks retreated across the region.
British insurer Prudential Plc, HSBC Holdings Plc and Standard Chartered Plc all slid more than 10 percent in Hong Kong.
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) June 24, 2016
The Bloomberg Commodity Index fell 1.8 percent, its biggest loss in more than a month.
Crude oil tumbled as much as 6.8 percent in New York. Copper and nickel dropped 3 percent or more in London.
Gold jumped as much as 8.1 percent to $1,358.54 an ounce, its highest since March 2014.
“Gold will be a preferred safe-haven asset with a ‘Leave’ vote,” said Barnabas Gan, an economist at Singapore-based Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp, who forecast that it could rally to as much as $1,400 if ‘Remain’ loses. Bullion’s expected to remain volatile until the final verdict is out, according to Gan.
U.S. Treasuries due in a decade surged, pushing their yield down by 22 basis points to 1.52 percent. That’s the biggest decrease since August 2011.
“We’ve seen nothing but people trying to buy this market, and panic is palpable,” said John Gorman, the head of U.S. debt trading for Asia and the Pacific at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Tokyo.
Sovereign debt in Australia and New Zealand led gains in Asia-Pacific bond markets, while Japan’s 30-year yield dropped to a record 0.145 percent.
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