• Asian markets extend gains on Brexit stimulus bets

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    HONG KONG: Asian markets rose for a second day Wednesday on hopes that authorities will unveil fresh stimulus to counter the effects of Britain’s shock vote to leave the European Union.

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    After Friday’s battering, regional investors have this week led a return to global equities and higher-yielding currencies.

    However, analysts warned there would likely be a period of volatility as Britain and its EU partners try to hammer out an exit agreement.

    Wednesday’s gains built on the previous day’s advance after Seoul unveiled a $17 billion plan to support South Korea’s already fragile economy, while news emerged that Japan was considering a similar move.

    Before the Tokyo bourse opened, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Finance Minister Taro Aso and Bank of Japan chief Haruhiko Kuroda held talks on containing the Brexit crisis.

    “The panic selling in global markets has eased,” Chihiro Ohta, a senior strategist with SMBC Nikko Securities, told Bloomberg News.

    “The fact that there’s a meeting going on between the government and the Bank of Japan will serve as a psychological anchor.”

    Japan’s Nikkei ended the morning session 1.4 percent higher, while Hong Kong was up 0.9 percent, Shanghai gained 0.4 percent and Sydney put on 0.7 percent. Seoul jumped 1.3 percent, while Singapore, Taipei and Wellington each tacked on about one percent.

    The advances follow sharp gains in New York and Europe.

    And while the British pound edged down slightly against the dollar, it has stabilised around $1.33, well up from the 31-year-low of $1.3121 it touched Monday.

    ‘Unnerving calm’

    In a sign that traders have calmed, higher-yielding, riskier, currencies edged up — Malaysia’s ringgit gained 0.6 percent and the South Korean won was 0.5 percent higher, while the Australian dollar and Indonesian rupiah also pushed up.

    Oil also built on the previous day’s strong gains, with West Texas Intermediate up one percent and Brent 0.8 percent higher.

    Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA Asia Pacific, said in a note: “The fiscal stimulus rumors saw risk appetite back on cue.”

    But he warned: “This relative calm is unnerving, given how fragile investor sentiment is, and the likelihood of renewed (pound) volatility. As a result, FX markets should remain a hot spot for the foreseeable future. Liquidity is gradually improving and appears to have weathered the initial Brexit sell off.”

    Attention is now on how Britain negotiates its way out of the EU after four decades of partnership.

    Adding to the uncertainty is the fact Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will stand down in the autumn, leaving his successor to hammer out the deal.

    Meeting in Brussels, impatient EU leaders Tuesday called on Cameron to speed up the split, warning Britain cannot expect special treatment outside the bloc.

    Cameron said he wants the break to be “as constructive as possible” and that he wanted the “closest possible relationship” with Europe afterwards.

    But German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned he could not “cherry-pick” in the exit negotiations — and there would be a price for Britain to pay.

    Angus Nicholson, a markets analyst at IG Ltd. in Melbourne, told clients the crisis “looks like it may be heading into an awkward period of uncertainty”.

    Key figures around 0230 GMT

    Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.4 percent at 15,543.72 (break)

    Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.9 percent at 20,349.82

    Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 2,924.85

    Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3308 from $1.3340 Tuesday

    Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1054 from $1.1065

    Dollar/yen: DOWN at 102.53 yen from 102.77 yen

    New York – DOW: UP 1.6 percent at 17,409.72 (close)

    London – FTSE 100: UP 2.6 percent at 6,140.39 (close)

    AFP

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