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Asia stocks, Sterling rise as Brexit anxiety abates

Sterling rose to $1.4847, its highest against the dollar in 2016, and was last up 0.6 percent at $1.4798. Photograph: (Getty)

New Delhi, Delhi, India Jun 23, 2016, 01.16 AM (IST)
Asian shares edged up and Sterling stood close to its peak for the year on Thursday, as investors were cautiously optimistic that British voters would opt to remain in the European Union at a referendum later in the session. 

Two opinion polls published late on Wednesday, a few hours before voters were due to begin to cast their votes, showed the "Remain" camp gaining momentum in the closely divided campaign.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.2 per cent in early trading, shrugging off modest overnight losses on Wall Street.

Japan's Nikkei share average rose 0.3 per cent.

"Markets seem to have almost entirely priced in a 'Remain' vote win, meaning that the market moves and volatility around the vote may be far less than many had been expected," wrote Angus Nicholson, market analyst at IG in Melbourne.

"Nonetheless, markets are still incredibly nervous and some sharp market moves are likely over the next 24 hours," he said.

Sterling rose to $1.4847, its highest against the dollar in 2016, and was last up 0.6 per cent at $1.4798.

The perceived safe-haven Yen also slipped on receding fears of the market turmoil that would likely follow if Britain were to pull out of the EU.

The dollar added 0.2 per cent to 104.69 Yen , while the euro gained 0.5 percent to 118.54 yen .

The euro rose 0.2 per cent to $1.1322 , while the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six rival currencies, slipped 0.1 per cent to 93.582.

On the US data front, home resales rose to a more than nine-year high last month against a backdrop of historically low mortgage rates, adding to recent upbeat second quarter data.

Crude oil prices rose after settling down more than 1 per cent on Wednesday after the U.S. government reported a smaller-than-expected inventory drawdown.

Brent added 0.7 per cent to $50.23 a barrel after shedding 1.5 per cent on Wednesday, while U.S. crude was up 0.8 per cent at $49.53 after giving up 1.4 per cent in the previous session.

Spot gold plumbed a two-week low of $1,260.36 an ounce and was last down 0.4 per cent at $1,261.24.

(Reuters)
 
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