Sell-Offs Abate as Brexit Opinion Seen Shifting

Workers speak above an electronic information board at the London Stock Exchange in the City of London
Workers speak above an electronic information board at the London Stock Exchange in the City of London. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

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/ Source: Reuters
By Reuters

Shares, oil and bond yields rose on Friday after a tumultuous week and as campaigning for Britain's EU membership vote next week was suspended after the killing of a pro-"Remain" politician.

European bourses rebounded 1.5 percent after a third straight week of falls and bond markets saw benchmark 10-year German bond yields claw back up to the zero mark as risk appetite slowly began to return.

Workers speak above an electronic information board at the London Stock Exchange in the City of London. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

Campaigning for Thursday's referendum, which overshadowed this week's U.S. and Japanese central bank meetings, was put on hold after a British lawmaker, Jo Cox, was murdered on Thursday.

The recently volatile pound rose 0.5 percent to $1.4277 with analysts noting that Cox's death could generate sentiment in favor of remaining in the EU.

"There was this incredible melt down in risk sentiment (yesterday) where everything seemed to be aligning and then this terrible incident in England seemed to be the root of everything reversing," Saxo Bank's head of FX strategy John Hardy.

"I think everyone is still in a state of shock as to what this means. Does it tilt the odds on a vote next week? It's hard to know but it certainly disrupted what the market was doing."

Oil, which has been a major driver of the sharp swings in global markets this year, rose for the first time in seven days. That decline has depressed prices by 10 percent.

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European banking stocks jumped more than 3 percent, having hit a four-year low - with all-time lows for banks including Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse - on Brexit worries and sub-zero interest rates, which are eating into earnings.

Gold also advanced, rising 0.4 percent to $1,283 an ounce after wild swings overnight. It had surged to a near-two-year high of more than $1,315, only to slump 2.8 percent by the end of the session. It was on track for a third week of gains.

"Leading into the Brexit vote, we expect gold to remain around current levels between the $1,270-$1,300 range. But after then all bets are off as everything depends on the results of the referendum," ANZ commodity strategist Daniel Hynes said.

Wall Street was expected to see a subdued start having snapped a 5-day losing streak on Thursday and with housing data and Canadian inflation figures due to be released.

Overnight, Asia's main stock markets saw modest gains although that was little consolation after a difficult week that saw both weak Chinese data and the Bank of Japan hold off on more stimulus but talk loudly about currency intervention.

China's CSI 300 index advanced 0.5 percent and the Shanghai Composite added 0.4 percent. That helped them cut weekly losses to 1.7 percent and 1.5 percent respectively.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.5 percent, but suffered a more than 4-percent loss on the week while Japan's Nikkei ended the week down more than 6 percent despite a 1.1 percent rebound on the day.

"Continued inaction by the BOJ in the face of these (global) risks only reinforces the market's suspicions that the central bank is running out of policy options, feeding back into a stronger yen," HSBC economist Izumi Devalier said in a note.

The dollar clawed back some lost ground against the yen. It steadied at 104.23 yen but was still down 2.4 percent this week, having dropped to 103.555, its lowest since August 2014.

The euro meanwhile added 0.3 percent to 117.395 yen . It too was down 2.4 percent for the week against the Japanese currency having hit a 3-year low of 115.51 on Thursday.

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Friday that he was deeply concerned about "one-sided, rapid and speculative moves" seen in the currency market and would respond if necessary to ensure stability in currencies.

Officials from the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Japan and the Financial Services Agency planned to hold a meeting on Friday to discuss financial markets, Aso said.