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Oil prices rise as markets on tenterhooks ahead of Brexit vote

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TOKYO Oil prices rose in early Asian trading on Thursday, shrugging off a smaller than expected decline in U.S. stockpiles as the market waited with bated breath for the result of Britain’s “Brexit” vote.

Trading has been choppy in the run up to Thursday’s vote on whether Britain leaves or stays in the European Union (EU), and is expected to remain so before results start filtering through late on Thursday or early Friday.

Brent’s August front-month contract LCOc1 was up 41 cents at $50.29 a barrel at 0038 GMT. It closed down 74 cents, or 1.5 percent, at $49.88 a barrel on Wednesday.

Prices for U.S. oil CLc1 were also higher, rising 43 cents to $49.56 a barrel.

“A positive tone in the commodity markets continues to support prices,” ANZ said in a morning note. “However the gains remain limited as investors await the outcome of the EU vote in the UK.”

U.S. crude inventories fell less than expected last week, while product inventories were up slight, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories USOILC=ECI dropped 917,000 barrels in the week ended June 17, compared with expectations for a decrease of 1.7 million barrels. It was the fifth consecutive week of draw downs for crude inventories.

The pound rose to a six-month high against the dollar early on Thursday after the latest polls showed those in favour of Britain remaining in the EU were in the majority. [FRX/]

The yen JPY=, often a safe-haven currency for risk averse investors, was down about 0.3 percent, while the Nikkei rose by slightly more than that.

(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Joseph Radford)

Source: R-Business


Asia stocks, sterling rise as Brexit anxiety abates

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TOKYO Asian shares edged up and sterling stood close to its peak for the year on Thursday, as investors were cautiously optimistic that British voters would opt to remain in the European Union at a referendum later in the session.

Two opinion polls published late on Wednesday, a few hours before voters were due to begin to cast their votes, showed the “Remain” camp gaining momentum in the closely divided campaign.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS edged up 0.2 percent in early trading, shrugging off modest overnight losses on Wall Street.

Japan’s Nikkei share average .N225 rose 0.3 percent.

“Markets seem to have almost entirely priced in a ‘Remain’ vote win, meaning that the market moves and volatility around the vote may be far less than many had been expected,” wrote Angus Nicholson, market analyst at IG in Melbourne.

“Nonetheless, markets are still incredibly nervous and some sharp market moves are likely over the next 24 hours,” he said.

(Latest Reuters news on the referendum, including full multimedia coverage:)

Sterling GBP= rose to $1.4847, its highest against the dollar in 2016, and was last up 0.6 percent at $1.4798.

The perceived safe-haven yen also slipped on receding fears of the market turmoil that would likely follow if Britain were to pull out of the EU.

The dollar added 0.2 percent to 104.69 yen JPY=, while the euro gained 0.5 percent to 118.54 yen EURJPY=.

The euro rose 0.2 percent to $1.1322 EUR=, while the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six rival currencies, slipped 0.1 percent to 93.582 .DXY.

On the U.S. data front, home resales rose to a more than nine-year high last month against a backdrop of historically low mortgage rates, adding to recent upbeat second quarter data.

Crude oil prices rose after settling down more than 1 percent on Wednesday after the U.S. government reported a smaller-than-expected inventory drawdown. [O/R]

Brent LCOc1 added 0.7 percent to $50.23 a barrel after shedding 1.5 percent on Wednesday, while U.S. crude CLc1 was up 0.8 percent at $49.53 after giving up 1.4 percent in the previous session.

Spot gold XAU= plumbed a two-week low of $1,260.36 an ounce and was last down 0.4 pct at $1,261.24.

(Reporting by Lisa Twaronite; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Source: R-Business


Ireland may assist exporters if Brexit occurs – Foreign Minister

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DUBLIN Ireland would have to consider taking steps to assist firms exporting into Britain if its nearest neighbour and largest trade partner votes to leave the European Union, Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan told Reuters on Wednesday.

Ireland’s economy is more vulnerable than any other in the EU if Britain opts to leave, and ministers including Flanagan have campaigned in Britain ahead of Thursday’s referendum to urge Irish voters living there to vote “Remain”.

Irish exporters would be the first to suffer if Brexit significantly weakened the pound against the euro and Flanagan said concerns had been raised in meetings with trade bodies during the campaign.

“It’s too early for me to speculate as to the nature of any actions that we may take but we are fully sensitive to the challenge that lies ahead and the need to respond accordingly,” Flanagan said when asked if there were any policy steps that could aid exporters.

“In the event of there being a vote to leave, we would be primarily focussed on strategic national Irish interests across a range of issues, primarily economic and trade, so we have prepared a plan across a range of departments.”

Around 1.2 billion euros ($1.35 billion) of goods and services are traded between the United Kingdom and Ireland each week with Irish farmers and food producers, major UK suppliers, particularly vulnerable.

Flanagan, serving a second term as foreign minister after his Fine Gael party returned to office last month, also predicted any withdrawal negotiations could take much longer than the two-year period laid down in EU law.

Of most concern to Ireland during such a process would be the impact on Northern Ireland, which has the only land frontier between the United Kingdom and the rest of the EU.

While pro-Brexit campaigners say a vote to leave would not endanger a common travel area that predates both countries’ entry into the EU in 1973, Flanagan said he could not see why the reintroduction of a hard border would not be considered.

Given the prominence of immigration as a campaign issue, he said, it would seem logical that Britain would be inclined to take some action if it was outside the EU. In that case, Dublin was concerned that the negotiation on a form of border would be done at EU level and therefore not entirely under its control.

The fear for many is that any new border restrictions could endanger an 18-year-old peace agreement between Catholic Irish nationalists seeking a united Ireland and their Protestant rivals who want to keep Northern Ireland British.

“At best, I would point to a period of uncertainty that would affect the great progress that has been made (in Northern Ireland) in recent years,” Flanagan said in his office in Dublin’s government buildings.

“And in terms of the peace process, any re-introduction of border controls, either in terms of custom controls for trade or in terms of security, that could well pose us with a difficult challenge.”

(Editing by Catherine Evans)

Source: R-Business

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