SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Global financial markets dived on Friday as media reports forecast that British voters had opted to leave the European Union, shocking investors and triggering jitters across the globe.
Tokyo stocks plunged more than 7 percent and South Korea's Kospi tumbled about 4 percent. Crude oil prices and U.S. futures also took a big hit. The British pound plummeted more than 10 percent in six hours while the yen surged nearly 4 percent to the U.S. dollar as investors seeking safety snapped up the Japanese currency.
By early afternoon in Asia, all main U.K. broadcasters predicted that Britain had voted to leave the 28-nation union. The "leave" side was ahead by 51.7 percent to 48.3 percent with more than three-quarters of votes tally, making a "remain" win a statistically near-impossibility.
Japan's Nikkei 225 plummeted 7.2 percent to 15,063.41 while South Korea's Kospi sank 4.2 percent to 1,903.84. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index tumbled 4.8 percent to 19,881.59 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 3.7 percent to 5,088.20.
On Thursday, Wall Street finished with rallies as pre-poll forecasts showed that Britain would keep the EU membership. Asian stock markets opened the day higher but the mood turned sour as initial results trickled in, showing the race to be unexpectedly tight.
U.S. futures also took a dive. Dow futures fell 3.3 percent and S&P futures
In currencies, the dollar fell to 101.35 yen from 104.80 yen while the euro weakened to $1.102 from $1.132.
Benchmark U.S. crude plummeted 6 percent, or $3.00, to $47.11 per barrel in New York. Brent Crude, the benchmark for international oil price, fell 5.3 percent, or $2.70, to $48.21 per barrel in London.