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Brexit: Don't panic

New Zealand investors are being urged not to panic about the potential impact of Brexit on their portfolios.

Monday, June 27th 2016, 6:00AM

by Susan Edmunds

Since the result was announced on Friday, New Zealand time, there has been turmoil on international markets - equities have taken a hit, Britain's currency fell 10% against the US dollar and 7% against the New Zealand. 

Against the US dollar, it traded at levels not seen since 1985.

But sovereign bonds, gold and the Japanese yen were buoyed by the move - the yen moved to a two-and-a-half year high against the US, although Japan's sharemarket suffered.

Bond yields experienced a steep fall on Friday, hiking the value of those in investor portfolios.

Australian 10-year bond yields dropped below 2%, while US Treasuries dropped to 1.4% and and German five-year bonds were at negative 0.53%.

John Berry, of Pathfinder, said New Zealand investors should not expect too much immediate impact. He said New Zealand's market, and the region more generally, should be largely unaffected. "The question is more how much exposure they have to the UK and Europe because that's where the impact is going to be felt."

But he said a global downturn could have an impact on wider confidence and sentiment towards equities.

Adviser Brent Sheather said investors had been rewarded for having opted for less risky investments.

"People with balanced portfolios aren't going to be hugely affected by Brexit They will incur losses in New Zealand dollar terms on their shares but make gains on having bonds exposure... The big question for average retail investors is how much exposure they should have to highly-leveraged institutions such as banks. For clients with not enough long bonds and too much banks - this could be the beginning of the end of that strategy."

He said there could be some short-term bargain hunting in the market, followed by "more losses and disappointment".

Nick Tuffley, ASB chief economist, said it should be expected that it was possible for New Zealand equities markets to fall further, as others globally dropped.

But he said it was also possible that all markets would then start to find their way back up again. "We've been through periods of marked sharemarket volatility over the last year and markets have clawed their way back up."

New Zealand's property market was unlikely to be affected, he said.

Tuffley urged investors to retain some perspective about what had happened.  "People who are investing for the long term need to avoid realising what at the moment is a paper loss. People need to think about what they are doing and why - whether their objective has been changed by what has happened.'

Tags: Brent Sheather Brexit Pathfinder Asset Management

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