Sterling advanced to a 2016 high against the dollar as voting got underway in Britain's referendum on EU membership, traders bracing for the most volatile market activity in decades. Sara Hemrajani reports.
After weeks of talk, now the action. Britain is heading to the ballot box for what's being called a once-in-a-generation decision. For the financial markets, it could be the calm before the storm. FTSE stocks rallying to a two-month high, while sterling surges against the dollar. Investors looking to take advantage before a potentially volatile session after the polls close. SOUNDBITE: Joshua Mahony, IG market analyst, saying (English): "Ultimately there have been a lot of people who have been trying to place these markets in the lead up to today and they don't necessarily want to be in for this huge risk event that we're seeing at the moment. So yes we're seeing quite a lot of hesitancy, but that comes off the back of a pretty substantial rally throughout the week." Over on the continent, Angela Merkel and Germany have made a final plea for the UK to keep the union intact. SOUNDBITE: Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, saying: "My hope sits on the fact that we can stay as 28 members. I am not in favour of creating sub-groups." Its fellow G7 members could see themselves taking steps should Brexit be the end result. Sources say the group will issue a statement in that scenario, stressing their readiness to calm nerves. Whether Britain decides to stay or leave, many in Brussels say they'll have to do some soul searching. With a rising tide of euroscepticism and slowing business growth, there are calls to fix disillusionment with the status quo.