Big impact fears have HK bracing for Brexit hit
As the date of the United Kingdom’s referendum on the European Union (EU) edges closer, the question that’s uppermost in everybody’s mind is: How will the vote affect Hong Kong?
The answer is “quite a bit”, especially if you have money parked in equities either in Hong Kong or other financial centers. Almost all recent opinion polls have pointed to a result that would be too close to call, giving rise to uncertainties that have unnerved stock markets around the world.
Investor sentiment has been further dampened by repeated warnings from world leaders that a British vote on exiting the EU, or Brexit, could have a destabilizing impact on the already weak global economy. Stock analysts have warned that a growing possibility of Brexit, as indicated by the latest polls, has pushed markets to the brink of a fullblown panic sell-off.
In these uncertain times, investors can be expected to follow their instincts in search of safe havens to park their money. That explains why they are flocking to the bond market, snapping up gilt-edged securities. As a result of the strong demand, bond yields have tumbled.
According to a BBC report, yields on 10-year UK government bonds have fallen 0.06 percentage point to a record low of 1.146 percent, while 20-year and 30-year “gilts” have also hit record lows.
Even if you don’t invest in stocks and bonds, you can still feel the impact of Brexit. US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has warned that Brexit could hurt the US economy. The prognosis of various business leaders is equally dire. They predict Brexit could push the EU back into the economic recession from which it has tried so hard to extricate itself the past few years.
As an externally-oriented economy, Hong Kong would take a hit from a Brexit-induced global economic downturn. But, it’s not clear how big the impact would be.
One thing is almost certain — global investments will remain in a state of flux over the next few days. If you believe that a “remain” vote will prevail, go ahead and try your luck. It’s going to be a short-term bet anyway. You’ll know for sure by Thursday.
Markets have been left on the brink of a panic sell-off as the entire global economy, and not just the European Union, will take a hit if the British vote to leave the European bloc.