Dow plunges 600+ points following historic Brexit vote

© Mike Segar
Investor panic over the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union has been felt across the Atlantic as well. The Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq indices were down by more than three percent by the closing bell.

The Down Jones had plummeted 610.25 points, or 3.39 percent, by the time markets closed at 4 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq saw similar nosedives of 3.6 and 4.12 percent respectively.

Markets opened Friday morning to a nearly instantaneous 2 percent drop in US stocks after United Kingdom became the country in history to withdraw from the European Union in history.

The Wilshire 5000, which covers all stocks trade in the United States, showed a total of roughly $800 billion being lost in US stock markets by time markets closed.

"Markets plummeted in early European trading,  with the shares of major UK banks and house builders down 30% at one point. The 10-year UK gilt was yielding 1.06% and the British Pound fell to $1.33. But after the initial panic,  the situation has stabilized with more moderate losses. In fact the FTSE 100 index will end up on the week," Boom Bust host Edward Harrison said. 

Bloomberg estimates that traders bet a total of $59 billion against the pound in anticipation of a Brexit. Those traders are poised to make a profit, since the currency traded at its lowest since 1985 following the referendum.

Investors are dumping riskier assets to buy gold, dollars and US Treasury bonds. The yield on the American 10-year bond dropped its lowest level since 2012.

"The participants were caught off guard and it showed a touch of complacency in terms of the vote. The mood is one of humility so far this morning, and certainty I think that of caution," Ryan Larson, head of US equity trading at RBC Global Asset Management in Chicago told Reuters.

"Markets are clearly shocked right now. Up until today, it's clear they were complacent, wholly optimistic that a vote to remain was in the bag. The question now, is how long this roller coaster lasts. How long will it be before things stabilize? The answer to that is what will seemingly direct the path forward," Boom Bust host Ameera David said.

During the day, gold reached a 12-month high of $1,363 per troy ounce, before falling to $1,319, which is still a 4.45 percent rise compared to Thursday.

The US Federal Reserve said it’s following the situation on the financial markets closely and is prepared to act to calm volatility.

“The Federal Reserve is prepared to provide dollar liquidity through its existing swap lines with central banks, as necessary, to address pressures in global funding markets, which could have adverse implications for the US economy,” said a statement.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and other finance ministers and central bank governors from the G7 said on Friday they are ready to take steps to stabilize markets, as they understand that “excessive volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates can have adverse implications for economic and financial stability.”

“The UK and other policymakers have the tools necessary to support financial stability, which is key to economic growth," said Lew.