Brexit leads to sea of red across Asian markets at lunchtime

People checking the rates for the Sterling Pound at a money changer in The Arcade on June 24, 2016. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The Asian markets are in full retreat, with investors rushing for exits as the Leave camp is seen to be taking and holding its lead in the Brexit referendum.

By Friday (June 24) noon, the Leave camp had 52 per cent of the votes.

And if the mood had been somewhat optimistic overnight - as reflected by the Straits Times Index's 0.28 per cent gain Thursday when Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Tokyo also ended in the black - it was in complete disarray by lunchtime on Friday.

It was a sea of red ink across the region. Shanghai was down 1.2 per cent, Hong Kong was down 4.7 per cent, and Tokyo was down 6.7.

At home the STI was haemorrhaging, dropping 2.54 per cent to hit 2,722.93, its lowest in three months. This came after a slight gain earlier in the day when the Remain camp took the lead momentarily.

But now, the panic has intensified on the trading floor and the selloff is full on, remisier Alvin Yong said.

"Early on my clients were still hopeful, but now all of them are having a change of mind and are cutting their losses.

"I think the drop will continue as the results roll in. Worst case scenario is that we may see STI taking a three-digit loss after the European markets open later in the day, and that will be one of the biggest single-day drop since 2008."

Meanwhile, gold has continued to edge up as investors seek safety amid the Brexit fears. Gold has put on 6.4 per cent to US$1,340.85.

But the risk-off assets are in turn taking a beating. Crude oil futures Brent has shed 6.5 per cent to US$47.61 a barrel, while the British pound has plunged 9.6 per cent to 1.3463 against the greenback.

With just less than 50 results unannounced, that Britain will leave the European Union is "a done deal", Bank of Singapore chief economist Richard Jerram said.

"The markets have been very efficient in their response and the big selloff now will go into next week.

"In the coming months it's reasonable to expect fluctuations similar to the crash in the first quarter. Don't forget that back then the bearish reactions were mostly exaggerated, but now we're tlaking about tangible economic impact."

What may happen next is that the central banks will move for more easing policies to control the subsequent economic damage resulted from Brexit, with the Federal Reserve likely pushing back the rate hike for a few more months, Mr Jerram added.

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