Sterling, stocks take another Brexit hit; oil, yen rise

By Reuters/Nigel Stephenson   June 27, 2016 | 03:48 pm GMT+7
Sterling, stocks take another Brexit hit; oil, yen rise
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 24, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Sterling fell more than 2 percent, the euro took a hammering and stocks dropped again on Monday as Britain's vote to leave the European Union drove investors to seek safety in the yen, gold and low-risk government debt.

Oil prices held near Friday's lows but were up on the day as traders took the view the British referendum's result would have little effect on global demand.

Sentiment remained weak, with a political crisis gripping Britain and no clarity about when the world's fifth-largest economy would leave the EU or on what terms. But the moves on Monday were nowhere near as extreme as on Friday, when global stocks suffered their biggest decline in nearly five years.

The pound recovered some of its lost ground after British finance minister George Osborne said the government had robust contingency plans in place and that it and the Bank of England could do more if needed.

The currency last traded at $1.3455, down 1.8 percent on the low. It had fallen as far as $1.3356 in Asian trade and to $1.3228 on Friday, its lowest in 31 years.

It also fell 1.2 percent to 82.28 pence against the euro and 1.7 percent to 137.10 yen.

"The clear risk must be for further downside," said Neil Mellor, a currency strategist at Bank of New York Mellon in London.

"Uncertainty equals currency weakness, we know this, and there is no sense that this (sterling) is a value trade right now and that you have to get back in. It is too early for anyone to start calling a bottom."

The euro, also considered vulnerable to the exit from the EU of its second-largest economy and a major financial centre, fell 0.6 percent to $1.1057, off a low of $1.0980.

Britain's FTSE 100 share index, which lost 3.2 percent on Friday, ebbed a further 0.8 percent on Monday.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 stocks index, which fell 7 percent on Friday in its biggest plunge in nearly eight years, was down 1.1 percent on Monday.

Germany's DAX pulled back only 0.5 percent and Spain's IBEX index rose 1.8 percent after acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's People's Party fared better than expected in weekend elections.

Wall Street, where the S&P 500 suffered its worst decline in 10 months on Friday, looked set for a modestly lower open, according to e-mini index futures .

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged down 0.1 percent. Companies with UK exposure in particular came under pressure.

"Things are so uncertain that investors still do not have a clear idea how much of their risk assets they need to sell," said Hiroko Iwaki, senior foreign bond strategist at Mizuho Securities. "But it is fair to assume investors are not yet done with all the selling they need to."

Financial shares led declines in Australia and Hong Kong. The financial sector is one of those most threatened by Brexit if the City of London's investment products and services lose the prized "EU passports" that give them access to the single market.

However, Japan's Nikkei 225 closed 2.4 percent higher after government officials stepped up warnings that they could intervene in currency market to stabilise the yen, whose strength harms exporters.

sterling-stocks-take-another-brexit-hit-oil-yen-rise

A man is reflected in a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, June 27, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Toru Hanai

Yen strength

The Japanese currency, considered a safe investment in turbulent times, strengthened 0.1 percent to 102.11 per dollar . It had risen as far as 101.50 in Asian trade.

Yields on core government debt, another perceived safe haven, fell again. German 10-year bond yields, the benchmark for euro zone borrowing costs, fell 2.4 basis points to minus 0.08 percent, holding above Friday's record low of almost minus 0.17 percent.

Spanish 10-year bonds outperformed those of other lower-rated southern euro zone countries under threat from Brexit-induced turmoil. Their yields fell more than 9 bps to 1.54 percent after Sunday's election.

U.S. Treasury yields also fell. The 10-year note yielded 1.51 percent, 7 bps lower than Friday's close but well above that day's low of 1.41 percent.

Gold, which saw its biggest rise since 2009 on Friday, climbed again. It last traded at $1,326 an ounce, up 0.8 percent on the day.

Related news:

> Britain decides to leave the European Union, sterling suffers biggest ever fall