Financial markets uncertain amid razor thin edge for Britain's 'Remain' camp

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on June 23. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (Bloomberg) - Global financial markets remained delicate as polls and early returns on the British referendum trickled in, with both the pound and US stock futures surrendering early rallies, while gold retreated with crude.

The pound trimmed an advance to the strongest level of the year and equities futures fluctuated as opinion polls following the British vote on its European Union membership diverged. The yen reversed losses.

While a YouGov survey indicated support for remaining part of the 28-nation bloc stood at 52 per cent, an Opinium poll indicated a race too close to call.

While results from Newcastle showed the "Remain" camp in the lead, the margin of victory was less than polls had predicted. Meanwhile, the margin of victory for the "Leave" campaign in Sunderland was even stronger than forecast.

"We're in for a volatile night," said Chris Gaffney, president of EverBank World Markets in St. Louis. "As long as things come in as expected on the results, I think you may see more of a flow into the risk markets - equity markets and the higher yielders - and out of the yen, US dollar and even Treasuries."

The debate over Britain's future dominated trading in June, with anxiety over the economic impacts of a Brexit, and the boost it could give to anti-establishment sentiment globally, stoking market volatility around the world.

Riskier assets from equities to industrial metals rallied this week amid speculation sentiment was shifting toward remaining.

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