The yen held at multi-year highs against the dollar and euro early on Friday, having surged across the board after the Bank of Japan refrained from adding fresh stimulus while sterling staged a rebound in a volatile session.
The dollar last stood at 104.35 yen, having fallen as far as 103.555 – a low not seen since Aug. 2014. The euro hovered just above 117.00 yen, after skidding to a three-year trough of 115.51.
The yen was among the strongest performers as the BOJ held its nerves despite market fears of a fresh global turmoil if Britain votes to exit the European Union at the June 23 referendum.
Campaigning for next week’s vote has been suspended after a British member of parliament, also a vocal advocate for Britain to stay in the EU, was shot dead in the street.
“Market participants appear to have interpreted the killing as a blow to support for the leave camp,” analysts at Commonwealth Bank wrote in a note to clients.
Sterling bounced back above $1.4200, turning around from a slide to a two-month low of $1.4013.
The dramatic move was a sign of how jittery the market is. Preparing for what could be the most volatile 24 hours in a quarter of a century, the world biggest banks including Citi and Goldman Sachs plan to draft senior traders to work through the night following the referendum.
Comments from officials in Japan and Switzerland also suggest that central banks are on guard for any market fallout next week.
“The pound remains at the mercy of Brexit polls and Brexit odds by bookmakers,” said Rodrigo Catril, currency strategist at National Australia Bank.
In a far more subdued performance, the euro firmed against the greenback, climbing to $1.1235, from a two-week low of $1.1131. That knocked the dollar index back down to 94.569, from a two-week high of 95.318.
Also left in the shadows, the Australian dollar held above 73 U.S. cents and was barely changed on the week.
With the UK referendum and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s congressional testimony both due next week, investors are likely to hunker down uneasily before the weekend, traders said.