Global equities advanced for a fourth day and the pound strengthened in the final trading session before Britons vote on membership of the European Union. Oil rallied as gold declined.
The MSCI All Country World Index edged higher and U.S. stock index futures rose as bookmakers’ odds implied there’s only about a one-in-four chance that Britons will opt to leave the EU in Thursday’s referendum. Sterling rose toward a five-month high and the yen strengthened for the eighth time in nine days as the dollar lost ground against all of its G-10 peers. Crude oil was set to close above $50 a barrel for the first time in almost two weeks, while gold was poised for its biggest three-day slide since March.
Global stocks are extending gains as odds at betting shops indicate the chance of a so-called Brexit has dropped to about 26 percent from 43 percent a week ago, before the murder of a U.K. lawmaker who favored staying in the EU. Opinion polls suggesting the vote is too close to call are nonetheless keeping a lid on investor sentiment following multiple warnings from central bankers and governments that a victory for the "Leave" camp would destabilize financial markets around the world.
“What investors hate the most is uncertainty,” said Chihiro Ohta, a senior strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. in Tokyo. “Most are just waiting on the sidelines to see what happens.”
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is due to address lawmakers for a second day on Wednesday, after saying Tuesday she wants to see the U.S. economy on a “favorable path” before the central bank considers hiking borrowing costs. U.S. data are forecast to show sales of previously owned homes climbed in May, while a report on consumer confidence in the euro area is also due. Central banks in Thailand and Colombia have policy reviews, with the latter expected to boost its benchmark rate by a quarter of a percentage point. Malaysian markets are closed for a holiday.
The MSCI All Country World Index rose 0.1 percent as of 8:13 a.m. London time, after climbing 2.6 percent over the last three sessions. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.4 percent, while MSCI’s gauge of shares in Asia excluding Japan gained 0.6 percent. Japan’s Topix lost 0.7 percent as benchmarks advanced in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore.
SoftBank Group Corp. rallied 2.6 percent in Tokyo, buoyed by the planned sale of its majority stake in a computer-game unit as part of an $8.6 billion deal. The purchasing group is being led by Chinese Internet company Tencent Holdings Ltd., which advanced 2.2 percent in Hong Kong.
Futures on the S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent.
Sterling appreciated 0.2 percent to $1.4687, after reaching a five-month high of $1.4783 on Tuesday. It’s jumped 3.4 percent over the past five sessions.
Since British lawmaker Jo Cox’s murder last week “a fair bit of repricing has occurred in the pound on the back of the shift in polls that were earlier clearly favoring Leave,” said Rodrigo Catril, a currency strategist at National Australia Bank Ltd. in Sydney. "The pound will definitely be volatile ahead of the vote.”
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.2 percent, after snapping a four-day losing streak on Tuesday. The yen climbed 0.3 percent to 104.43 versus the greenback, extending this month’s advance to about 6 percent. The Australian and New Zealand dollars appreciated 0.4 percent.
Crude oil rose 1 percent to $50.35 a barrel as U.S. industry data showed crude stockpiles declined, trimming a glut. Inventories fell by 5.2 million barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute was said to report. Government data Wednesday is forecast to show supplies slid by 1.5 million barrels, slipping for a fifth week while still more than 100 million barrels above the five-year average.
“The oil price will probably continue to labor around this $45 to $50 a barrel area for some time,” David Lennox, an analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney, said by phone. “Demand is still under question. Inventories are declining, but they’re still large and will cap any significant rally.”
Gold declined 0.2 percent, after sliding 2.4 percent over the last two days.
Corn added 0.8 percent in Chicago following a 5.7 percent slide in the last session that marked the contract’s steepest drop since it began trading in December 2013. Prices dropped on Tuesday amid an improving supply outlook for the U.S. and Brazil, the world’s top exporters.
The yield on U.S. Treasuries due in a decade retreated from a two-week high, falling one basis point to 1.69 percent. Yellen reiterated on Tuesday that a vote to leave the EU could have “significant economic repercussions,” even as she warned against exaggerating its global impact. She had said on June 15 that Brexit risks played a part in the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision to hold off from raising interest rates.
Futures indicate 49 percent odds that the Fed will tighten policy this year, down from 76 percent probability at the start of the month.
Australia’s 10-year bonds fell for a fourth day, boosting their yield by six basis points to 2.22 percent. Germany’s also declined, lifting their yield by one basis point to 0.06 percent.