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Britain Leaves EU After Referendum, EU Founding Nations Call for Quick Split Talks, Shock Wave in the World Stock Markets

June 25, 2016 


Six of EU foreign ministers, representing the EU founding nations, meet in Brussels to discuss impact of Brexit, June 25, 2016  



Britain pressured for quick EU split as Brexit impact begins

Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:51am EDT

LONDON | By William James and Michael Holden

Britain was under pressure on Saturday to set out a quick timetable for a divorce from the European Union after the country's historic vote to leave the bloc sent shockwaves around the world.

Global stock markets plunged on Friday, and sterling saw its biggest one day drop in history after Britons voted by 52-48 percent to exit the EU, which it joined more than 40 years ago.

Ratings agency Moody's downgraded its outlook for Britain, saying its creditworthiness was now at greater risk as the country would face substantial challenges to successfully negotiating its exit from the bloc.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he wanted to begin negotiating Britain's departure immediately.

"Britons decided yesterday that they want to leave the European Union, so it doesn't make any sense to wait until October to try to negotiate the terms of their departure," Juncker told Germany's ARD television station.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Friday he would resign after leading the failed campaign to stay in the bloc, and said someone else should take the lead in negotiating the unprecedented and complicated extrication.

He suggested his replacement would be in place by October. That person could be his Conservative Party rival Boris Johnson, the former London mayor who became the most recognizable face of the Leave camp and who is now favorite to succeed him.

Britain's decision to leave the EU is the biggest blow since World War Two to the European project of forging greater unity.

The United Kingdom itself could also now break apart, with the nationalist leader of Scotland, where nearly two-thirds of voters wanted to stay in the EU, saying a new referendum on independence from the rest of Britain was "highly likely".

Scottish government ministers were meeting on Saturday to decide their next move.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet French, German and Italian leaders in Berlin on Monday to discuss future steps, and the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, will meet on Saturday morning.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday tried to limit the fallout from Britain's vote to leave the European Union which threatens to harm the U.S. economic recovery and distract U.S. allies from global security issues.

Obama vowed that Washington would still maintain both its "special relationship" with London and close ties to Brussels, but stood by his warning that Britain would move to the back of the queue when it came to trade deals.

U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, whose own rise has been fueled by similar anger at the political establishment, called the vote a "great thing".

Supporters of Islamic State and al Qaeda said Britain had divided and weakened itself, according to the SITE monitoring service. Militant Islamists took to the internet to applaud the British vote, with one saying it marked the "beginning of the disintegration of the Crusaders".

The British pound fell as much as 10 percent against the U.S. dollar on Friday to levels last seen in 1985 on fears the decision could hit investment in the world's fifth-largest economy, threaten London's role as a global financial capital, and usher in months of political uncertainty. The euro slid 2.0 percent against the U.S. dollar.

World stocks saw more than $2 trillion wiped off their value. European stocks ended down 7.0 percent, the biggest one day fall since 2008. U.S. stocks fell suffered the largest selloff in ten months sharply, with the Dow Jones industrial average losing 3.4 percent. [.N]

Investors put their cash in the safety of gold, which clocked up its biggest daily gain since the global financial crisis of 2008, ending Friday up 5.0 percent at $1,315 an ounce.

Ratings agency Moody's said Britain was at risk of a credit downgrade, assigning a negative outlook to its 'Aa1' rating for British government debt.

"During the several years in which the UK will have to renegotiate its trade relations with the EU, Moody's expects heightened uncertainty, diminished confidence and lower spending and investment to result in weaker growth," the agency said.


Quitting the world's biggest trading bloc could cost Britain access to the trade barrier-free single market and means it must seek new trade accords with countries around the world. A poll of economists by Reuters predicted Britain was likelier than not to fall into recession within a year.

The EU arose out of the ashes of two world wars to unite a continent and now faces the challenge of maintaining economic and political unity without Britain, which has the EU's biggest financial center, a U.N. Security Council veto, a powerful army and nuclear weapons.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the "Brexit" vote a watershed for European unification.

The result emboldened eurosceptics in other EU member states, with French National Front leader Marine Le Pen and Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders demanding their countries also hold referendums. Le Pen changed her Twitter profile picture to a Union Jack and declared "Victory for freedom!"

The British vote will trigger at least two years of divorce proceedings with the EU, the first exit by any member state.

There was euphoria among Britain's eurosceptic newspapers.

"Birth of a new Britain," the Daily Telegraph said, while the Daily Star tabloid borrowed from Donald Trump's campaigning message with its headline "Now Let's Make Britain Great Again".

The Daily Mail hailed it as a victory by "the quiet people of Britain" over an arrogant, out-of-touch political establishment and a contemptuous Brussels. Those which backed staying the bloc were more circumspect. "Brexit earthquake," the Times said.

Britain has always been ambivalent about its relations with the rest of post-war Europe. A firm supporter of free trade, tearing down internal economic barriers and expanding the EU to take in ex-communist eastern states, the UK opted out of joining the euro single currency and the Schengen border-free zone.

    Cameron's ruling Conservatives in particular have harbored a vocal anti-EU wing for many years, and it was partly to silence such figures that he promised the referendum in 2013.

    His party is now left with deep divisions after an often bitter and personal campaign with rows over immigration which critics said at times unleashed overt racism, while there are angry recriminations among lawmakers in the opposition Labour Party about the role of its leftist leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn, accused by party critics of campaigning tepidly for its Remain stance, makes a speech on Saturday which will be closely watched by critical colleagues, two of whom issued a no-confidence motion to topple him on Friday.

The campaign revealed deep splits in British society, with the pro-Brexit side drawing support from voters who felt left behind by globalization and blamed EU immigration for low wages.

Older voters backed Brexit but the young and well educated mainly wanted to stay in the EU. London and Scotland supported the EU, but swathes of England that have not shared in the capital's prosperity voted to leave.

Left unclear is the relationship Britain can negotiate with the EU with officials warning UK-based banks and financial firms could lose automatic access to sell services in Europe.

    Huge questions also face the large numbers of British expatriates who live and work freely elsewhere in the EU as well the fate of EU citizens who live and work in Britain.

(Additional reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Kate Holton, Kylie MacLellan, Sarah Young, Alistair Smout, Costas Pitas, Andy Bruce and David Milliken in London, and Steve Holland in Turnberry, Scotland; Writing by Mark John and Pravin Char; Editing by Giles Elgood)


ECB's Villeroy: Brexit talks must be quick, City of London at risk of losing 'EU passport'

Reuters, Sat Jun 25, 2016 8:05am EDT

French Central bank Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau attends the 2016 Institute of International Finance (IIF) Spring Membership meeting in Madrid, Spain, May 25, 2016. Reuters/Susana Vera

PARIS London's financial center will lose its prized "EU passport" if Britain fails to secure continued access to the bloc's single market in its exit talks, ECB Governing Council member Francois Villeroy de Galhau said on Saturday.

Banks based in London, Europe's biggest financial center, rely on what is called an EU passport to operate across the bloc's capital market unhindered while basing most of their staff and operations outside the euro zone in London.

"If tomorrow Britain is not part of the single market, the City cannot keep this European passport, and clearing houses cannot be located in London either," Villeroy, who is also governor of the French central bank, told France Inter radio.

Paris has been a rival city to London as a financial center.

Brexit talks will have to be quick to limit uncertainty, said Villeroy, who is also Bank of France governor.

"There is a precedent, it is the Norwegian model of European Economic Area, that would allow Britain to keep access to the single market but by committing to implement all EU rules," he said.

"It would be a bit paradoxical to leave the EU and apply all EU rules but that is one solution if Britain wants to keep access to the single market."

If that did not work out, that could be an opportunity for euro zone financial centers including Paris, Villeroy said. Some banks have said they would shift operations to the euro zone if Britain left the EU.

"It's up to us to do the right reforms to be even more attractive," he said, adding that could include tax reforms, and more incentives for expats.

(Reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Jermey Gaunt) 


Wall Street eyes low rates, earnings after Brexit rout

Reuters, Sat Jun 25, 2016 4:12am EDT

By Noel Randewich and Caroline Valetkevitch

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 24, 2016. Reuters/Lucas Jackson

With markets reeling after Britain's vote to leave the European Union, some on Wall Street expect cooler heads to prevail over the next several sessions as investors focus domestically on the outlook for the U.S. economy and company earnings.

The unexpected decision by Britons to break away from the world's biggest trade bloc raised the specter of a slower global economy and sent stocks and currencies plunging by historic amounts on Friday.

Friday's 3.6 percent slump erased the S&P 500's gains for 2016. But even as the index suffered its worst one-day drop in 10 months, some U.S. investors looked for reasons to expect more upbeat trading next week.

They pointed to expectations that U.S. interest rates would remain low, that upcoming reports would show U.S. corporate earnings had recently improved and that Britain's breakup with the EU would be gradual, and not economy-wrecking.

"I don't think this is a catalyst that's going to cause a bear market in this country at all. People should not be going ‘the world is coming to an end.’ It's not," said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O’Neil Securities in New York.

U.S. companies do stand to lose from Britain's divorce from the EU, a process expected to take two years to negotiate.

Britain was the fifth-largest buyer of U.S. exports last year, with $56 billion in purchases, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. A stronger dollar versus the pound and other currencies would inevitably hurt U.S. companies selling abroad.

"There's going to be a lot of reconsideration, pausing, certain deals that were contemplated are going to change," said Steve Massocca, chief investment officer at Wedbush Equity Management. "But ultimately, this is not going to have a fundamental impact on how the world goes about doing business."

Fed Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to speak at an event in Portugal on Wednesday and investors will want to know how she sees the so-called Brexit changing the outlook for the U.S. economy and interest rates.

Traders have completely priced out any chance of a Fed rate hike this year and are even weighing the possibility of a rate cut, federal funds rate futures suggest.

"This event pretty much ensures that unless something dramatic changes, interest rates in this country are going nowhere for the foreseeable future, and that is at the end of the day a positive scenario for the stock market," said Ted Weisberg, a trader with Seaport Securities in New York.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Commerce Department plans to release its final gross domestic product estimate for the first quarter of 2016. That and a slew of other economic data, including the Conference Board's read on June consumer confidence, could sway investor sentiment at a time when the health of the U.S. economy has become a more critical question for investors.

The second-quarter earnings season hits full force in mid-July. Improved earnings reports from U.S. companies could be good news for stocks, as they would make higher share prices justifiable on a price-earnings basis.

S&P 500 companies on average are expected to report a 3.9 percent decline in second-quarter earnings from the same quarter a year ago and a 2.3 percent increase in September-quarter earnings, according to Thomson Reuters data. However, estimates for multinationals could be cut due to the Brexit vote.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich in San Francisco and Caroline Valetkevitch in New York; additional reporting in New York by Marcus Howard, Lewis Krauskopf and Rodrigo Campos; editing by Linda Stern and Dan Grebler)



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