By KELVIN CHAN AP Business Writer
The British pound jumped and world stock benchmarks rose Friday as Scotland voted to stay part of the United Kingdom, avoiding a messy breakup that could have roiled financial markets. Japanese shares surged to a level not seen since before the global financial crisis the as the yen extended losses against the dollar.
KEEPING SCORE: Britain’s FTSE 100 advanced 0.7 percent to 6,864.45 and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.6 percent to 4,492.39. Germany’s DAX added 0.6 percent to 9,852.19. U.S stocks were set to open higher, with Dow futures up 17,241.00 while S&P 500 futures gained 0.3 percent to 2,009.70.
ASIA’s DAY: Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 jumped 1.6 percent to close at 16,321.17, after rising as high as 16,364.08, the highest level since 2007, as the yen’s weakness made exports cheaper for overseas buyers and local stocks more affordable for foreign investors. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.3 percent to end at 2,053.82. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.8 percent to 24,351.81 while the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China gained 0.6 percent to 2,329.45. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.3 percent to 5,433.10.
CURRENCIES: The yen is at its lowest in more than six years; its rapid decline against the dollar has been driven by expectations the Federal Reserve will raise rates while the Bank of Japan will maintain its stimulus program. The dollar strengthened to 109.13 yen, up 0. 3 percent from 108.77 in late trading Thursday. The pound jumped after voters rejected independence for Scotland. Sterling rose as much as 0.4 percent to $1.6509 from $1.6445 though it later fell back to be largely unchanged. The euro dropped to $1.2893 from $1.2919.
SCOTLAND: Investors were relieved that Scotland to stay with Britain. There were fears for the U.K economy and its financial markets if Scotland voted for independence but companies and markets were heartened that that the final tally showed the campaign against independence won a clear victory.
THE QUOTE: “Trading desks have been staffed in London, with all hands on deck around Asia and Australia. The market was always positioned for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom and at no stage had the rates market displayed any signs of stress,” said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Markets in Melbourne.
ALI-BUSTER: The jumbo initial public offering by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group in New York will cap the week for investors. The company set its IPO price at $68 per share, near the top end of the marketing range, to value the company at nearly $168 billion. The stock starts trading later Friday under the symbol BABA.
ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil slipped 16 cents to $92.91 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.35 to close at $93.07 a barrel on Thursday.