Brexit concerns 'will keep markets volatile'

The questions left hanging over Britain's future in the wake of last Friday's shock Brexit outcome will likely continue to shake global financial markets this week, say analysts.

"The next question traders will be asking is: What will happen (this) week? More broadly, I expect the European Union (EU) to face political and economic contagion risks," said IG market strategist Bernard Aw.

"Growing perception that we could see unbridled contagion spreading throughout the EU will hit the European economies hard, as well as the euro and European equities. This means that risk-off sentiments would likely dominate markets next week," he added.

The results of the referendum - where the Leave camp won 51.9 per cent of the votes against the Remain camp's 48.1 per cent - stunned many investors who were confident Britain would choose to stay.

Many fear the fallout will derail the global economy.

About US$2.6 trillion (S$3.5 trillion) was wiped off markets across the world as a result, while the pound crashed to its lowest level in more than 30 years.

Last Friday saw London's Footsie slump as much as 8.38 per cent in trading, its worst one-day fall since the 2008 financial crisis.

Tokyo shares were ravaged, with the Nikkei 225 plunging 7.92 per cent, while on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 3.39 per cent.

At home, the Straits Times Index sank 58.46 points or 2.09 per cent to 2,735.39 - down 28.03 points or 1.01 per cent for the week.

Companies with exposure to Britain, such as City Developments, CapitaLand and ComfortDelGro, unsurprisingly bore the brunt of the selling.

Mr Andrew Gillan, head of Asia ex-Japan equities at Henderson Global Investors, which manages over US$133.3 billion in assets worldwide, believes Asian markets will head lower this week, "simply due to the surprise and uncertainty ahead".

"We have had the initial sharp reaction on Friday so market moves should be less severe and you may even see short-term rebounds in currencies and shares, but the implications of Brexit and what it means for Europe as a whole will weigh on markets for longer," he said.

"This adds to the existing weaker global growth environment which will make corporates and investors more cautious."

But he noted that within Asia, Singapore remains a "relatively defensive equity market" given its balance sheet strength, a fairly stable currency historically and decent dividend yields, meaning investors should not write off all firms' prospects.

"The direct impact of Brexit on Singapore companies is limited and it affects sentiment much more," he said, noting that the Chinese economy, regional growth and the credit cycle, on the other hand, are more important drivers to the country's corporate fundamentals.

Still, all eyes will be focused on fresh developments on the Brexit front in the coming week.

EU foreign ministers and leaders are set to discuss the next steps for Britain at separate meetings, while the European Central Bank (ECB) begins its three-day Forum on Central Banking today, with Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, ECB president Mario Draghi and Bank of England governor Mark Carney among the key speakers.

"Their views on the implications of the Brexit outcome could provide clues on how the global central banks will do in the near future," said IG's Mr Aw.

In Asia, traders will also look out for the release of China's industrial profits - out today - and manufacturing figures due Friday.

Japan is scheduled to publish a series of key data through the week, including retail trade, the consumer price index and the Tankan reports, starting Wednesday.

At home, Singapore is due to release quarterly numbers on home prices on Friday.

This article was first published on June 27, 2016.
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