HONG KONG - World stocks rose and the British pound rallied briefly on Friday as Scotland voted to stay part of the United Kingdom, avoiding a messy breakup that could have roiled financial markets. Japanese shares surged to their highest since 2007 as the yen extended losses against the dollar.
Britain's FTSE 100 advanced 0.7 percent to 6,864.55 and France's CAC 40 rose 0.1 percent to 4,468.88. Germany's DAX added 0.6 percent to 9,860.77. U.S stocks were set to open higher, with Dow futures up 0.4 percent and S&P 500 futures rising 0.4 percent.
Investors were relieved that Scotland voted to stay in the U.K. Independence would have shaken the U.K economy and its markets because of uncertainty over the future value of the pound and public debt, among other things. Companies and markets were heartened that that the final tally showed the campaign against independence won a clear victory.
"Trading desks have been staffed in London, with all hands on deck around Asia and Australia. The market was always positioned for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom," said Chris Weston, chief strategist at IG Markets in Melbourne, Australia.
The pound jumped temporarily after Scottish voters rejected independence. It rose as much as 0.4 percent to $1.6509 from $1.6445 though it later dropped back to $1.6388 as many investors had already priced in a No vote victory. In Asia, the yen fell to its lowest in more than six years; its rapid decline against the dollar has been driven by expectations the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next year while the Bank of Japan will maintain its stimulus program. The dollar strengthened to 108.84 yen from 108.77 yen late Thursday, after rising as high as 109.46. The euro dropped to $1.2869 from $1.2919.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.6 percent to close at 16,321.17, after climbing as high as 16,364.08, as the yen's weakness boost export reliant stocks. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.3 percent to end at 2,053.82. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.6 percent to 24,306.16 while the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China gained 0.6 percent to 2,329.45. Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.3 percent to 5,433.10.
The jumbo initial public offering by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group will cap the week for investors. The company set its IPO price at $68 per share, near the top end of the marketing range, which values the company at nearly $168 billion. The stock starts trading later Friday in New York under the symbol BABA.
Benchmark crude oil slipped 14 cents to $92.93 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.35 on Thursday.