Yen soars to almost 2-year high as Brexit poll shows strong Leave vote

A Japanese 100 yen coin and 10,000 yen banknotes are arranged for a photograph in Tokyo.
A Japanese 100 yen coin and 10,000 yen banknotes are arranged for a photograph in Tokyo.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

TOKYO (Bloomberg) - The Japanese yen soared soared past 100 per US dollar for the first time since November 2013 as results from the UK's referendum indicated Britons may have voted to leave the European Union, spurring demand for this year's best-performing major currency as a haven.

The yen reversed earlier losses to surge as much as 7.2 per cent to 99.02 against the greenback, climbing against all is major peers.

Vote counts declared from 306 of 382 districts produced a lead for the Leave campaign and the UK's three main television networks predicted a Brexit win. 

Investors and analysts have said a move past 100 would put pressure on Japanese authorities to intervene to weaken the currency as its advance in 2016 threatens to unwind much of the impact of the Bank of Japan's record monetary easing.

"All hell is breaking loose," said Mr Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist in Singapore at Mizuho Bank Ltd. "It looks like markets are now lurching because the prospects of Leave is now looking more tangible. The only surefire is you buy yen, you buy US Treasuries, you buy gold, and you sit tight. Whoever is hurting probably already hurt."

The yen was 5.7 per cent stronger at 100.42 per dollar as of 12.49pm in Tokyo, and soared 18 per cent to 133.80 per pound.

After four consecutive years of declines, the yen has advanced 20 per cent this year against the greenback in the best performance among developed nations, amid concern a Brexit would drag down already-tepid global growth.