You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Asia markets mixed in early trade as traders brace for Brexit vote

CNBC logo CNBC 23-06-2016 Saheli Roy Choudhury

Markets in Asia were mixed in early trade on Thursday, following losses in U.S. stocks, as investors remained on edge ahead of the U.K. vote on whether to leave the European Union (EU).

Australia's ASX 200 (.AXJO) was up 0.07 percent, with the materials subindex advancing 1.05 percent. Major miners saw more 1 percent advances, with shares of Rio Tinto (RIO-AU) up 1.35 percent and Fortescue (FMG-AU) rising 4.91 percent.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 (.N225) was up 0.24 percent, while across the Korean Strait, the Kospi (.KS11) was down 0.39 percent.

Chinese mainland markets opened a tad lower, with the Shanghai (.SSEC) composite shedding 0.26 percent and the Shenzhen (.DJSZ) composite essentially flat. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng (.HSI) index edged down 0.11 percent.

Stateside, the Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) closed down 48.90 points, or 0.27 percent, at 17,780.83. The S&P 500 (.SPX) index was down 3.45 points, or 0.17 percent, at 2,085.45, while Nasdaq (.IXIC) composite fell 10.44 points, or 0.22 percent, at 4,833.32.

Market moves were relatively muted, despite lingering uncertainty over the U.K. referendum.

"Markets seem to have almost entirely priced in a 'remain' vote win, meaning that the market moves and volatility around the vote may be far less than many had expected," Angus Nicholson, a market analyst at spreadbettor IG, said. 

© Provided by CNBC

But Nicholson cautioned that markets were nervous and "some sharp market moves are likely over the next 24 hours."

Britons head to the polls on June 23 to cast a vote that would determine if the United Kingdom (U.K.) should remain or leave the 28-member EU trade bloc.

The pound (GBPUSD=) traded up at $1.4800 as of 8:39 a.m. HK/SIN, compared with levels near $1.40 in the previous week.

Oil prices fell overnight after data showed the drawdown in U.S. crude inventory was lower than what the market expected. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a stockpile decline of 917,000 barrels for the week ended June 17, Reuters reported. This was below the 1.7 million-barrel drawdown that analysts polled by Reuters had forecast.

Overnight, global benchmark Brent fell 1.5 percent to $49.88 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures dropped 1.4 percent to $49.13.

— Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.

More from CNBC

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon