A man walks past an electronic board showing stock prices on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in the window of a securities company in Tokyo yesterday
AFP - European and Asian stock markets rebounded strongly yesterday, with traders signalling that the tragic murder of a pro-Europe lawmaker in Britain could swing the upcoming referendum vote to remain in the EU.
Wall Street had risen overnight and the pound was firmer after campaigning was suspended following the murder Thursday of Labour MP Jo Cox, one week before the June 23 referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
“The suspension of campaigning for the UK EU referendum after the tragic death of Labour MP Jo Cox boosted risk appetite,” said Nick Stamenkovic, an analyst at broker RIA Capital Markets.
“The pound and euro rebounded on the news but the yen softened.”
Following a week of largely heavy falls, stock markets rallied yesterday also thanks to eurozone finance ministers agreeing to unlock 7.5 billion euros ($8.4 billion) in urgently needed cash for Greece, dealers said.
Banking shares in particular were strong, with Barclays and Societe Generale up around 5.0 percent in London and Paris respectively -- and Banco Popolare surging 12 percent in Milan, pushing the FTSE Mib index up over 3.0 percent.
Around 1045 GMT, London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 1.2 percent compared with the close on Thursday.
Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index rallied 1.0 percent and the Paris CAC 40 won 0.9 percent in value..
With polls recently suggesting that the EU referendum outcome was too close to call, investors had been piling into safe haven investments, notably the yen, gold and German government bonds.
Gold, which hit a near two-year high at $1,315.71 an ounce Thursday, fell back to $1,285.30 an ounce Friday.
Britain’s bitter voting campaign was on pause Friday for a second day as the nation reeled from the death of Cox, a 41-year-old former aid worker.
The advance Friday of European stock markets “follows gains in both the US and Asia that can be attributed to diminished fears of a UK exit from the European Union”, said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.
“The assumption is that the tragic event will sway the undecided to vote ‘Remain’ and possibly even reverse some of the ‘Leave’ momentum seen in recent polls.”
Witnesses told local media that Cox had been repeatedly shot and stabbed.
A 52-year-old man, named by media as local Thomas Mair, was arrested. Described by neighbours as a loner, there were indications that he had extreme right leanings.
Markets won a lift also from Greece bailout news Thursday, which came one day after thousands of Greeks protested in Athens over new cuts imposed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in return for the money.
“Once again the markets have bounced away from their lows, a solid US session and confirmation of a fresh Greek bailout seemingly lifting investors’ spirits,” said Connor Campbell, analyst at trading firm Spreadex.
Markets had plunged Thursday, also on Japan’s refusal to ramp up its stimulus in the face of torpid growth at home. Expectations that the US Federal Reserve’s next rate hike may not now be until next year had also weighed.
But after five straight sessions of losses, New York’s three main indices saw modest gains Thursday which fed through to Asia.
Tokyo closed up 1.1 percent on Friday, having plunged more than three percent Thursday.