By Eddie Van Der Walt, Manisha Jha, Thomas Biesheuvel
After staying up all night in London to the watch the European Union referendum results, and mourning the outcome, Lauro Franzese decided to make some money.
“I thought I might as well get something out of it,” the 61-year-old army veteran said as he walked the streets of the city’s Hatton Gardens jewelry district. “So I sold gold today -- at about 30 percent profit.”
Franzese, who unloaded a ring he’d owned for a decade as well as several coins, took advantage of the biggest ever one-day gain for gold that’s denominated in pounds. As the British currency sank to the lowest level in three decades, gold rose a record 14 percent to 966.14 pounds.
In a shop next to the Savoy Hotel, dealers said they had never seen anything like it. Some Londoners are rushing to sell, many more to buy. “Anybody who’s got a spare pound to put into gold is doing it,” said Michael Cooper, commercial director of ATS Bullion Ltd. “We’re doing 10 times the business we normally do.”
In the fallout from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, the unexpected resignation of the prime minister and uncertainty over the country’s economic future, investors looked for safety and found it in gold -- a precious metal long prized as a universal store of value immune to the whims of political leaders. The Royal Mint, which makes circulation and collector coins, and specialist online brokers reported surges in new customers. The Mint saw a “significant spike” in buying, with account openings up 200 percent since Thursday.
“We’re going to be inundated,” said Cooper of ATS, which traces its history to the 1600s. “We’re buying pretty much everything we can from the refiners. They’re not going to get enough in to fill all the orders.”