Gold rallied the most since the global financial meltdown of 2008 after the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, sending markets into a tailspin and investors piling into haven assets.
Bullion for immediate delivery jumped as much as 8.1 percent, the most since 2008, and traded at $1,322.88 an ounce as of 7:10 a.m. in London. Prices touched a two-year high and trading volume on Comex was eight times the average for this time of day. Denominated in sterling, the metal soared a record 15 percent to 972.72 pounds.
“The volume we saw last night was unmatched by anything, and we’re nowhere near done,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at London brokerage TF Global Markets. “The phone’s been off the hook all night. We were around the news wires nonstop.”
“Our clients were immensely frustrated that they couldn’t get orders filled. You’d give them a number and the next moment, a huge position would come in and just clear out the market,” said Aslam as he stepped of the office for a coffee after working overnight. He also plans to work the weekend to meet the surge in business.
The U.K.’s unprecedented decision to leave the European Union raises questions about the stability and future direction of one of the world’s biggest centers of economic and financial power. As investors in London woke up to the vote, the pound sank to the lowest level in three decades and equities tumbled, with futures on the FTSE 100 Index plunging more than 8 percent.
Just after 6 a.m. London time, with most votes in, the BBC said there was no way back for the pro-EU side, with voters having backed “Leave” by 52 percent to 48 percent.
European gold sellers saw a rush of business as investors turned to the asset, which has a reputation for rising in times of distress. CoinInvest.com, a German dealer, said it had a record number of U.K. visitors looking to buy. Gold Britannias and Sovereigns from the Royal Mint were the best sellers in the early hours, according to Daniel Marburger, a director at the Frankfurt-based firm.
ABC Bullion Co. said it was on course to open the same number of accounts for new investors on Friday as in a typical week, said Jordan Eliseo, chief economist at the Sydney-based gold trader.
Lots of Fragility
“There’s a lot of fragility out there politically and economically,” Eliseo said. “It’s a more difficult time for investors and safe-haven assets are the way to go.”
Among equities, Newcrest Mining Ltd., Australia’s biggest gold producer, advanced 9.2 percent. Evolution Mining Ltd. surged 14 percent.
Societe Generale SA said in a note this week that gold could hit $1,400 in the event of a Brexit vote.
The metal is up 24 percent for 2016 and investor holdings of bullion in exchange-traded funds are the highest since 2013. Still, prices had declined in the days before the referendum as investors bet that the U.K. would stay in the EU.