Since 2010, the U.K. government has been building up an emergency war chest that could be used to intervene in foreign-exchange markets to support sterling if needed. Britain’s official holdings of international reserves, which include foreign-currency assets and gold, have increased 12 percent in the past year to a gross $140 billion, according to Bank of England data. The BOE has warned that a U.K. vote to leave the European Union in the referendum on Thursday could cause a sharp drop in the pound.

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