(Bloomberg) -- Most Asian index futures signaled a rebound in the region’s equities, at the end of a week in which anxiety over Britain’s vote on European Union membership dominated trading. The yen was near its strongest level since 2014, while oil extended its slump.
Futures on stock gauges in Japan, Australia and South Korea tracked a rally in the U.S., after the killing of a U.K. lawmaker prompted speculation that Britons could be more inclined to vote to stay in the EU in next week’s referendum. The pound was steady after erasing losses Thursday amid an easing in bookmakers’ odds on a so-called Brexit. The yen headed for a 2.4 percent advance in the week after the Bank of Japan standing pat on stimulus furthered a rally ignited by a tick-up in risk aversion. U.S. crude fell a seventh day, on track for its longest slump since January, while gold and copper rallied.
Anxiety over the unchartered territory a vote for Brexit could usher in, and the aptitude of central banks to enforce stability amid such an event, has helped erase almost $2 trillion of global equity value over the past week. Traders noted that the U.S. equity rebound coincided with a deterioration in odds of Britons electing to leave the EU, while others said the rally was unsurprising given how fast stocks fell at the open. Campaigning for the June 23 referendum was suspended after Jo Cox’s death, which was the first killing of a U.K. member of Parliament since the days of Irish Republican terrorism.
“Campaigning has been placed on hold and that to an extent steadied the market,” Tony Farnham, a strategist at Patersons Securities Ltd. in Sydney, said by phone. “There’s a significant number of people still undecided and that’s really the swing factor.”
Increased concern over the outcome of the British vote came in a week heavy with central bank activity, with Janet Yellen saying the June 23 referendum was a factor in the Federal Reserve’s decision to keep key interest rates on hold Wednesday. The Bank of Japan’s decision to leave its stimulus unchanged came less than 12 hours after the Fed also reined in its projection for rate increases this year. The Bank of England and Swiss National Bank also kept policy as it, citing worries about the potential damage caused by Brexit.
New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index was little changed as of 8:24 a.m. Tokyo time, with the first major stock gauge to start trading each day headed for a 1.2 percent drop this week, its worst weekly drop since February. Futures on the S&P 500 Index also were little changed at 2,071.75 following the benchmark’s 0.3 percent climb last session. Data Thursday showed initial jobless claims rose more than forecast last week, while the cost of living in the U.S. excluding food and fuel rose in May, propelled by rising rents.
Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average were bid up 0.6 percent to 15,460 in the Osaka pre-market, after the index slumped 3.1 percent Thursday, in the wake of the BOJ’s policy decision. Yen-denominated Nikkei 225 contracts added 0.3 percent to 15,605 in Chicago, after slipping 1.9 percent in the previous session. The yen, which typically moves at odds with Japanese shares, slipped 0.2 percent to 104.45 per dollar after rising every day this week.
In Australia, futures on the S&P/ASX 200 Index gained at least 0.5 percent with those on South Korea’s Kospi index in most recent trading. Contracts on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.2 percent with futures on the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index.
Japan’s Cabinet Office issues a report on the economy Friday and Singapore posts data on exports. Thailand updates foreign-reserve levels, while Hong Kong reviews interest rates.
--With assistance from Inyoung Hwang To contact the reporters on this story: Emma O'Brien in Wellington at firstname.lastname@example.org, Adam Haigh in Sydney at email@example.com. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Emma O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jeff Sutherland
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