Sterling suffers historic crash as Brits back Brexit

First Day Of The Royal Cornwall Show
The pound plummeted three per cent in a matter of minutes (Source: Getty)

The pound has been haemorrhaging against the dollar as panic engulfs financial markets in reaction to the UK voting to leave the European Union.

Sterling has racked up its worst daily fall on records that date back to 1971 — even uglier the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Black Wednesday.

At one stage, the pound fell as low as $1.3224, a fall of more than 10 per cent from the highs of $1.50 it reached yesterday. By the close in London sterling had recovered somewhat and a pound was going for $1.3632 – 8.33 per cent lower than yesterday.

Brexit Britain: What you need to know

The vote to leave took markets off-guard after polls released late last night gave Remain the edge, sending sterling to a 2016 high against the dollar - meaning the currency reached its both 2016 high and low within one 24-hour period.

At the close the pound was down 2.4 per cent against the euro, at €1.1117. It was earlier down by over five per cent against the Eurozone single market currency.

Sterling lost ground earlier in the day to every major currency.

Equity performed a similar rally following an initial sell-off.

The FTSE 100 fell out of bed at the open this morning, dropping below the 6,000 mark after closing at 6,334.63 last night. The blue-chip index recovered and closed down 2.76 per cent or 175 points 6,162.97 today.

Banking and housing stocks bore the brunt of the sell offs, with some of the biggest companies on the FTSE 100 losing double digits directly after the open.

Panic in the market was exacerbated by the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, though the Bank of England governor Mark Carney moved to backstop the markets.

Read more: Tendring, where Ukip's only Westminster seat is, votes Leave

Last night, as Brexit anxiety grew, so did demand for the safe-haven yen, which jumped on the greenback and euro. The greenback dropped below 100.00 yen for the first time since late 2013, while the euro fell below 110.00 for the first time since late 2012.

The mood around the City, which had settled in for a long night, was grim.

Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Forex, said: "It is vile and ugly out there, the British pound is facing its worst day ever. Investors were not prepared for this and this is what you get when you have pre-mature celebrations."

"Although, some bookies have started to call it game over with 91 per cent of chances of Brexit, it is not over until it is over. Some big cities are still going to report and it there where we can see the change," he added.

Experts previously said that the pound could fall to equal value to the euro, while wonks at HSBC predicted it would tumble by 20 per cent.

Read more: London backing Remain but needs more than 70 per cent support to balance strong Leave vote

The North East of England and Wales threw their weight behind Leave, with commentators saying a higher turnout than in the General Election has increased margins. Scotland, Northern Ireland and provisionally London all appear to have sided with Remain.

The Brexit camp's apparent win marks a sharp reversal from two earlier polls, which had put Remain in the lead by 52 per cent and 54 per cent respectively.

Traders told Reuters that thin market liquidity contributed to the huge gyrations.

"Many players are not trading actively," said Koichi Yoshikawa, executive director of finance at Standard Chartered Bank.

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