TOKYO — Global stock markets and the pound fell on Monday amid worries that Britain will opt for a “hard exit” from the European Union in which it severs its access to the bloc’s single market.
KEEPING SCORE: France’s CAC 40 dropped 0.7 percent to 4,885 and Germany’s DAX shed 0.6 percent to 11,557. Britain’s FTSE 100 inched down only 0.1 percent to 7,327, as the drop in the pound tends to support the shares of the index’s many multinationals that earn in dollars. The U.S. stock market was shut for a holiday.
BREXIT WORRIES: British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to deliver a speech Tuesday outlining her vision of Britain’s post-EU future, and market players expect her to indicate a “hard” approach to the nation’s exit. That would mean leaving the EU single market, which guarantees no tariffs on goods and services. Her office has said she will call for a “truly global Britain” that is more open to the world when she lays out plans for negotiations with the EU.
POUND: The Brexit concerns are taking a toll on the pound. The British currency on Monday tumbled to its weakest levels since October, when it suffered a flash crash that brought it to 31-year lows against the dollar, before recovering somewhat. It was at $1.2061 on Monday compared with $1.2183 the day before.
EXPERT VIEW: Analysts at UniCredit Research say that the pound is likely to remain under pressure as it seems that May is willing to sacrifice access to the EU single market if that’s needed to limit EU immigration. “As long as control over immigration remains the U.K. government’s anchoring point, it is virtually impossible to envision anything other than an exit from the EU’s single market,” they said in a note to investors.
TAKATA’S TUMBLE: Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp.’s stock suffered after the company agreed in the U.S. last week to a guilty plea and a $1 billion fine for concealing a deadly defect in millions of air bags. Takata shares finished down 10.1 percent. Three former Takata executives were also indicted. Automakers have recalled 42 million cars equipped with 69 million Takata air bag inflators in the U.S., the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 1.0 percent to 19,095.24. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.5 percent to 5,748.20. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.6 percent at 2,064.17. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 1.0 percent to 22,718.15, while the Shanghai Composite dropped 0.3 percent to 3,103.43. Shares in Southeast Asia were also mostly lower.
ENERGY: Benchmark crude fell 16cents to $52.21 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 1.2 percent Friday. Brent crude, which is used to price oils sold internationally, lost 9 cents to $55.36 a barrel in London.
OTHER CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 114.03 yen from 114.58 yen. The euro fell to $1.0602 from $1.0643.