The Sun's front page in support of Britain leaving the European Union.
The Sun's front page in support of Britain leaving the European Union.

Brexit vote has markets holding their breath

Share Markets:

Markets took a breather on Friday night, ahead of the UK vote on EU membership this Thursday night.

Volatility in financial markets is expected to pick up as the vote nears.

The US stockmarket suffered a mild loss, while European markets were generally stronger.

The Dow and the S&P 500 fell 0.3% and the Nasdaq was down 0.9% on Friday. The Euro Stoxx was up 1.1% and the UK FTSE 100 gained 1.2% for the session.

Interest Rates:

US government bond yields finished higher as investors slightly lifted their rate hike expectations.

Market pricing for near-term Fed hikes firmed slightly, the 27 July meeting still given only a 5% chance, but September up to 25%. 

FOMC voter Bullard, however, sounded dovish in calling for only one rate hike over the next 30 months, saying the US economy had slipped into a pattern of slow growth. Chair Yellen will speak on Wednesday night.

Foreign Exchange:

The US dollar index (against a basket of currencies) fell on Friday as Brexit concerns eased slightly. The Euro gained, with EUR/USD rose from 1.1223 to 1.1342 this morning. 

Sterling outperformed, with GBP/USD rising from 1.4204 to 1.4485 this morning, amid a temporary halt to Brexit campaigning and bookmakers' chances of leaving falling (average probability among book makers down from 39% to 32%).

The Aussie dollar was boosted by a slight lift in risk appetites. AUD/USD was also quite stable, between 0.7364 and 0.7438 this morning.

NZD similarly ranged between 0.7033 and 0.7092. AUD/NZD rose from 1.0442 on Friday, to 1.0517 this morning.


Commodity prices benefited from an easing in risk aversion. The oil price lifted US$1.80 to US$48.0 per barrel.


There was no local data to report on Friday.


Home prices rose in 60 Chinese cities in May, down from 65 in April (of the 70 followed). Prices fell in four cities in May, down from five in April.

This suggests measures by authorities in larger cities to slow growth in property prices are gaining traction.

New Zealand:

Manufacturing conditions in New Zealand strengthened in May, as the combination of lower interest rates and solid population growth continued to underpin the economy despite the negative influence of weak commodity prices.

Business NZ performance of manufacturing index (PMI) rose to 57.1 in May from 56.5 in April where a reading above 50 indicates expansion in economic activity.

United States:

Housing starts fell 0.3% in May. This followed a downwardly revised increase of 4.9% in April (previously reported as a 6.6% increase).

Building permits rose 0.7% in May, after advancing 4.9% in April.