Brexit fallout: Asian markets close deeply into the red at traders flee

A woman walks past a bank board displaying the closing numbers of the Hang Seng Index, in Hong Kong, on June 24, 2016.
A woman walks past a bank board displaying the closing numbers of the Hang Seng Index, in Hong Kong, on June 24, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE - Britain's vote to leave the European Union plunged Asian markets deeply into the red on Friday, as traders fled to safety.

Tokyo led the selldown in the region, slumping 7.92 per cent - the most since the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake - as results to the referendum overturned earlier expectations for Britain to stay. Hong Kong sank 2.92 per cent, Shanghai dropped 1.3 per cent, and Seoul slid 3.09 per cent.

The local Straits Times Index (STI) fell 58.46 points, or 2.09 per cent, to 2,735.39, despite having opened higher in the morning.

Turnover shot up as well with a total of 1.37 billion shares worth S$1.77 billion changing hands across the bourse - the highest since May 31.

"Everybody is just watching and trying to absorb what's happening," Mr Tim Condon, head of Asian research at ING Group in Singapore, told Bloomberg.

"A lot of people have been caught off guard," he said, referring to earlier expectations for Britain to stay, which were quickly quashed as the results came in.

Not one of the 30 STI constituents racked up gains - 28 finished weaker, two were flat.

Unsurprisingly, property plays, especially those with exposure to Britain, came off among the worst hit: City Developments sank 38 cents or 4.4 per cent to S$8.31 and CapitaLand lost nine cents or 3 per cent to S$2.89.

Transport group ComfortDelGro Corporation, which has a presence in Britain, declined seven cents or 2.6 per cent to S$2.67.

Hutchison Port Holdings Trust was also one of the biggest losers, dropping two US cents or 4.5 per cent to 42.5 US cents, while Golden Agri-Resources fell 1.5 cents or 4.2 per cent to 34 Singapore cents.

Wall Street, which rallied 1.29 per cent overnight to clock its biggest gain since March 1, will likely take lead from global markets in light of the Brexit decision.

"The immediate impact of Brexit has been a significant increase in risk aversion, which will hurt risk assets like global equities, including stock listed on the local bourse," said Mr Vasu Menon, vice-president and senior investment strategist at OCBC Bank.

"Singapore is a small and open economy with significant inter linkages to the rest of the world, so the global uncertainties caused by Brexit may cast a pall on the local bourse, at least in the short term."

tsjwoo@sph.com.sg