With the British majority voting to leave the European Union, turmoil rippled in global markets as sterling plummeted and hammered equities across the world on Friday.
This in turn could well hinder the Federal Reserve from increasing rates as planned this year, and could even inflame a new round of emergency policy easing from all the major central banks.
Risk assets were charred as investors absconded to the traditional safe-harbors of top-rated government debt, the Japanese yen and gold.
Results unveiled a 51.8% / 48.2% split for the exit, putting Britain on an unsure path and handling the biggest obstacle to European efforts to establish stronger unity since World War II.
Co-head of portfolio investments of London-based currency specialist Millennium Global Richard Benson said that it is a remarkable move for financial markets and for democracy. “The market is pricing interest rate cuts from the big central banks and we assume there will be a global liquidity add from them in the next few hours.”
Brexit Impact on Stocks, Currency
European stock markets were set to open over 10% lower. Billions were also wiped from share values as FTSE futures plunged 7%, EMINI S&P 500 futures sank 5% and Japan’s Nikkei slid 7.6%.
The British pound hit its lowest since 1985—collapsing no less than 18 US cents, easily the biggest decline in memory. The euro fell 3.2% to $1.1012 as investors feared for its future.
Sterling retreated 10.1% at one point and slumped at $1.3582, having carved out a range of $1.3228 to $1.5022. The freefall was even bigger than during the global financial crisis.
The Japanese currency jumped higher to perch at 102.15 per dollar, having been as low as 106.81 at one point. The greenback decrease of 4% was the biggest since year 1998. This triggered warnings from Japanese officials that excessive forex moves were undesirable.
Asian and Eastern European currencies suffered on concerns that investors could pull funds out of emerging markets. Poland, where many of the Eastern European in Britain come from, found its zloty tumble 7%.
Financial markets have tied for months about what Brexit mean for Europe’s stability. “Obviously, there will be large spill-over effects across all global economies if the ‘Leave’ vote wins. Not only will the UK go into recession, Europe will follow suit,” predicted Matt Sherwood, head of investment strategy at fund manager Perpetual in Sydney.
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