The dollar is surging around the world as investors and speculators seek a ‘safe haven’ as the U.K. lurches towards the European Union’s exit door.
The pound is naturally the biggest loser, falling more than 15 cents–more than 9%–overnight against the greenback–and U.K. stock futures are tipped to open down over 6% according to Reuters. At $1.34, the pound has gone from a new high for 2016 to its lowest level since 1985 in the small space of 5 hours.
But the sense of panic has spread beyond the U.K. as the results of the vote ripple through global markets. U.S. stock futures are indicated over 3% lower. The euro is also down over 3% against the dollar, as traders price in a potentially catastrophic shock to the European Union and its already-stressed single currency project.
The Japanese yen, another ‘safe haven’ asset beloved of traders, has also strengthened sharply against all currencies including the dollar, in a move that will deal another blow to Japan’s fragile recovery. Crude oil futures, meanwhile, are down 4.5% at below $48 a barrel.
The Leave campaign has so far amassed over 17 million votes, enough to comfortably seal a victory against the Remain campaign. Broadcasters have already declared the referendum won, and an official announcement is due shortly.
European financial markets will open within hours, and a wave of volatility is almost inevitable. A source close to the European Central Bank told Fortune last week that its market division is expecting a 15% drop in the pound on the day after a Leave vote. The Bank of England, which warned against a Leave vote, has said it will guarantee financial stability if it has to, but the U.K. has traditionally rejected any attempts to massage its exchange rate since its traumatic exit from the E.U.’s Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992.
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