Brexit Fears Roil Markets

The interest rate on the 10-year German government bond has gone negative for the first time.
Katie Kuehner-HebertJune 14, 2016
Brexit Fears Roil Markets

Not only are stock markets down across Europe ahead of a possible Brexit, but bonds are even in negative return territory as investors are now willing to pay for safety.

Recent opinion polls have suggested that there may be growing support for a Brexit vote in the June 13 referendum, in which Britain would leave the European Union.

The FTSE 100 in London fell 1.8%, or 105 points, to 5,939 — the first time the index has been below the 6,000 mark since February, according to BBC News. The Cac in Paris sank 2% and Wall Street also traded lower.

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“Markets are on the verge of a full-blown panic sell-off due to rising probability of Brexit,” said Rabobank analysts.

Such fears have even spread to bond markets, as the interest rate on 10-year bonds issued by the German government fell below zero for the first time.

“The decline in yields, or returns, for government bonds reflects strong demand from investors for a safe place to park their money,” BBC News wrote. “In the case of Germany, the yield has fallen to minus 0.028%, meaning investors are prepared to pay, rather than be paid, to own bunds.”

Returns on 10-year U.K. government bonds fell to a record low of 1.146%, while 20-year and 30-year “gilts” also dropped to record lows.

Moreover, the sterling fell 1.1% against the U.S. dollar, to $1.4115.

The declines in the European markets were on top of jitters over the health of the global economy and worries over when the U.S. may start raising interest rates.

Indeed, fund managers were holding more cash than at any time since 2001 and have reduced the number of shares they own to four-year lows, according to a new survey from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

“Globally, sentiment remains weak,” the survey said.