LONDON: European stocks rallied and the pound hit 2016 highs Thursday as markets expected the Remain camp to come out on top in Britain’s referendum on EU membership.
This despite opinion polls suggesting the outcome remains close as millions of Britons voted Thursday.
The latest poll, an Ipsos MORI survey for the Evening Standard newspaper, put “Remain” on 52 percent and “Leave” on 48 percent.
“Another swing in opinion polls back towards Remaining in the EU has sparked a six-month high for the British pound and a surge in UK and European stocks,” said Jasper Lawler, analyst at trading group CMC Markets.
“US stocks look set for a stronger open, bolstered by signs that the UK will vote to remain in the EU”, Lawler added, although Asian markets had a mixed day.
Around 1030 GMT, London’s benchmark FTSE 100 was up 1.5 percent, while eurozone indices had gains of 2.3 percent.
In currency trading, the pound hit a 2016 high at $1.4947.
“Strength in UK equities and sterling suggests confidence that a Remain vote will prevail… helping avert potential financial, economic and political crises,” said Mike van Dulken, head of research at traders Accendo Markets.
Markets suffered a sharp sell-off last week as polls indicating growing support for Leave triggered concerns about a potential global rout for share prices just months after a China-fuelled sell-off wiped trillions off valuations.
However with sentiment shifting to a Remain victory, equities have rebounded strongly this week.
“Anybody who is predicting this (outcome) with a high degree of certainty is delusional,” said Bill Fitzpatrick, portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.
On Asian equity markets, Tokyo ended up 1.1 percent and Hong Kong rose 0.4 percent. Shanghai closed down 0.5 percent down and Seoul shed 0.3 percent.
“Markets seem to have almost entirely priced in a ‘Remain’ vote win, meaning that the market moves and volatility around the vote may be far less than many had expected,” Angus Nicholson, a Melbourne-based market analyst at IG, said in a commentary.
“Nonetheless, markets are still incredibly nervous and some sharp market moves are likely over the next 24 hours.”
Financial institutions are reinforcing their trading teams to cope with the prospect of frantic trading through the day and the world’s leading central banks say they are ready to react to any eventuality.
Britain, which is the world’s fifth largest economy, will suffer a powerful blow to growth and jobs, corporate chiefs warned, if the country becomes the first state to defect from the EU in the bloc’s 60-year history.
Key figures around 1030 GMT
London – FTSE 100: UP 1.5 percent at 6,352.10 points
Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 2.3 percent at 10,300
Paris – CAC 40: UP 2.3 percent at 4,479.30
EURO STOXX 50: UP 2.3 percent at 3,046.20
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.1 percent at 16,238.35 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 2,891.96 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.4 percent at 20,868.34 (close)
New York – DOW: DOWN 0.3 percent at 17,780.83 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1399 from $1.1313 late Wednesday
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.4947 from $1.4737
Dollar/yen: UP at 105.70 yen from 104.51 yen
Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2016
Courtesy : BRecorder