Asian stocks join global rally on stimulus bets but pound still struggling post-Brexit

World stocks rose for the first time in three days and sterling and the euro climbed on Tuesday. Investors have made a rush for Brexit-bashed assets hammered by some of the biggest falls since the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.
An Indonesian man looks at the stock exchange share prices board in Jakarta.
An Indonesian man looks at the stock exchange share prices board in Jakarta. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Asian share markets joined a global rally on Wednesday (June 29) as the immediate impact of Britain's vote to leave began to wane and investors wagered central banks would have to ride to the rescue with more stimulus measures.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.5 per cent, but remained a long way from its pre-vote levels. Japan's Nikkei climbed 1.1 per cent, while Australian stocks added 1 per cent.

Any bounce was welcome, given global equity markets shed US$3 trillion in value in the two days following Britain's shock vote, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. Investors also pointed to solid US economic data as helping to steady the ship.

Yet Britain's course out of the EU remains unknown, leaving the future of the entire bloc and its currency an open question.

"The only certainty in Europe is uncertainty," said analysts as Australia and New Zealand Bank in a note. "European leaders appear to want to move forward with Brexit plans as quickly as possible, but political turmoil within Britain suggests a quick turnaround is unlikely."

The unease was evident in sterling which managed only a meagre bounce to US$1.3350, not that far from a 31-year low of US$1.3122 and down 10 per cent from early Friday.

The euro regained a little ground to US$1.1072, while the safe-haven yen faded a touch to 102.60 per US dollar.

For now, investors are counting on central banks to step in with fresh stimulus to support markets over time.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged the Bank of Japan to provide ample funds to ensure market liquidity.

In the first of Federal Reserve policymakers to comment since the vote, Governor Jerome Powell said it had shifted global risks "to the downside." That only reinforced market expectations the Fed will no longer be able to hike US rates this year, and could even be forced to cut if the domestic economy falters.

On Wall Street overnight, the Dow rose 1.57 per cent, while the S&P 500 gained 1.78 per cent and the Nasdaq 2.12 per cent. Badly beaten-down financials and tech stocks were among the top gaining sectors.

The calmer mood was reflected in the CBOE Volatility Index which fell about 21 per cent to close to where it was before the vote. It was its largest one-day percentage decline since August 2011.

Aiding sentiment were data showing the US economy grew at a 1.1 per cent annualised rate in the first quarter, rather than the 0.8 per cent pace reported last month.

Yet concerns about the impact of Brexit on global growth and all the talk that central banks might have to ease anew to offset it, kept sovereign bonds well supported.

Yields on US 10-year notes held at 1.461 per cent, just above a near four-year low of 1.406 per cent hit on Friday. German and Japanese bonds are well into record territory and paying negative yields.

Indeed, all Japanese bonds out to 30 years now pay less than 0.1 per cent, a nightmare for pension funds and insurers desperate for a "decent" return.

In commodity markets, gold stepped back after two heady days. Spot gold was holding at US$1,314.40 an ounce, but off an earlier low of US$1,305.23.

Oil prices gained on potential supply outages and drawdowns in crude. US crude oil futures were up 28 cents at US$48.13, while Brent crude rose 17 cents to US$48.75.