Thursday June 23rd


US futures spike as Brexit vote begins

U.S. stock-index futures indicated a higher open Thursday as traders eyed the release of several pieces of data and kept a close eye on the U.K., where Britons have begun voting on whether to remain in or leave the European Union. Dow futures rose more than 150 points, while S&P and Nasdaq futures gained 20 points and 48 points, respectively. Opinion polls taken before the vote indicated the outcome is too close to forecast, although two polls published late on Wednesday suggested a swing towards "Remain". Much will depend on turnout, with younger Britons seen as more supportive of the EU than their elders but less likely to vote. Polling stations opened at 0600 GMT and will close at 2100, with results expected to be announced by the 382 individual local counting areas between around 0100 and 0300 on Friday. Prime Minister David Cameron called the vote under pressure from the anti-EU wing of his Conservative Party and the surging UK Independence Party (UKIP), hoping to end decades of debate over Britain's ties with Europe. On the data front, initial claims fell to 259,000. New home sales and leading indicators set to come out at 10:00 a.m. Polls in the U.K. will remain open until 10:00 p.m. BST tonight. The pan European Stoxx 600 Index was up 1.6 percent on Thursday. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei closed 1.07 percent higher on Thursday while in China, the Shanghai Composite closed 0.46 percent lower. On the earnings front Accenture and BlackBerry are among companies set to report before the bell. Sonic and Synnex are set to report after the bell. Oil prices rose by up to 2 percent on Thursday, shrugging off a smaller than expected draw on U.S. crude stocks as money and equity markets firmed after the last sweep of Brexit opinion polls raised optimism over Britain remaining in the EU. Global markets, including commodities, have been on tenterhooks for weeks ahead of Britain's referendum on European Union membership on Thursday. The majority of results are expected to come in between 0100 and 0300 GMT following a YouGov poll shortly after voting closes at 2100 GMT. Global benchmark front-month Brent crude was trading up 91 cents at $50.79 a barrel. It touched an intra-day high of $50.90 a barrel, up $1.02 from Wednesday's close. U.S. crude futures stood at $49.88, up 75 cents, or 1.5 percent. Gold fell to a two-week low on Thursday after the last sweep of opinion polls before Britain's referendum on EU membership gave the campaign to stay in the bloc a slight edge. Britons were voting on Thursday in the referendum that has divided the nation. The polling will close at 2100 GMT, with results expected early on Friday. Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,264.25 an ounce. The metal, often perceived as a hedge against economic and financial uncertainty, reached a near two-year high on June 16, as wider markets reacted to mounting concerns over the prospect of Britain pulling out of the EU and sought protection in 'safe' assets. They also included German bunds, the Swiss franc and Japan's yen, but the rally was short-lived.