Asia Stocks Outside Japan Rise as U.K. Vote on Europe Approaches

  • Polls indicate U.K.’s Brexit referendum will be close
  • Japanese shares retreat as yen resumes strengthening

Asian stocks outside Japan rose as campaigning for the U.K. referendum on staying in the European Union entered the final day. Shares in Tokyo declined on low volume as the yen strengthened.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Excluding Japan Index rose 0.5 percent to 414.09 as of 5:03 p.m. in Tokyo. Gauges in Singapore, Hong Kong and China advanced, while Japan’s Topix index lost 0.7 percent. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told the U.S. Senate that she wants the economy to be on a “favorable path” before the central bank considers hiking interest rates. Betting shops put the probability of a “Leave” vote in the U.K. at about one in four, while most polls are still split on the outcome.

The market “trembled in fear over Brexit, then regained some breathing space with Bremain prospects,” said Tsutomu Yamada, a market analyst at Kabu.com Securities Co. in Tokyo. “The U.K. will probably remain.”

It’s been a tumultuous year for investors in Asia-Pacific equities. The regional index began the year with a 14 percent slump through a February low on concern about a slowdown in China and the falling price of oil, and amid prospects for a U.S. rate increase. The measure then rallied 19 percent through this year’s peak in April before retreating again. The gauge is down 1.7 percent in 2016 through Tuesday.

Financial markets remain on edge ahead of Thursday’s referendum, amid concern a vote to leave the EU could fuel global instability. Still, as the vote approaches, an index of odds compiled by Oddschecker put the probability of a vote to leave at about 26 percent, down from 43 percent a week earlier.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.6 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.9 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index climbed 0.5 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index increased 0.7 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.1 percent, while New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 0.8 percent.

SoftBank Group Corp. jumped 2.6 percent in Tokyo, buoyed by the planned sale of shares in gamemaker Supercell Oy to a group led by China’s largest Internet company, Tencent Holdings Ltd.

E-mini futures on the S&P 500 were little changed after the underlying equity gauge climbed 0.3 percent on Tuesday. Futures indicate 49 percent odds that the Fed will tighten policy this year, down from 76 percent probability at the start of the month.

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