ASX 200 slumps on Brexit fears: Keep calm, and carry on

Local shares rallied for much of last week as investors around the world came to terms with Britain’s shock decision to leave the European Union, dubbed Brexit.

Indeed, the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) even climbed as high as 5,282.3 points on Friday, which was strangely higher than the index’s closing price of 5,280.7 points in the session immediately before Brexit.

However, the market ultimately ended lower on Friday, and has extended its fall today. At the time of writing, the main bourse has dropped 70 points or 1.4% with the fall once again being attributed to Brexit fears (together with ongoing uncertainty regarding the outcome of the federal election).

Notably, the Australian dollar has also retreated after it briefly peaked above US75 cents yesterday, while gold has also rocketed higher once again. In fact, the shiny metal is now fetching slightly less than US$1,370 an ounce, which is proving very beneficial for gold miners today.

Shares of Beadell Resources Ltd (ASX: BDR) for instance have surged 12.1% higher. EVOLUTION FPO (ASX: EVN) shares are trading 7.4% higher, Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX: NCM) is up 3.4% and St Barbara Ltd (ASX: SBM) is up 5.4%.

Other sectors haven’t been so lucky, including the banks which are acting as a heavy weight on the broader market. While all four have fallen at least 1.6%, Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) has dropped 2.3% and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) is sitting on a lofty 3% decline.

Energy shares are faring even worse after oil prices fell sharply overnight, spurred by fears regarding global growth. BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) is down 4.1% and Origin Energy Ltd (ASX: ORG) has plunged 5.7%.

What investors should do…

Despite last week’s rally, it was always unlikely that the volatility had passed following Brexit. There are still many unanswered questions related to what will happen next and what effect that will have on the global economy, which is clearly playing on the minds of investors.

As tempting as you may find it to sell your shares, now is not the time to do that. Instead, investors should ensure they have their emotions in check and that they are comfortable with the companies that do occupy their portfolios. Given the uncertainty facing the economy right now, businesses that possess defensive qualities would be among the safest bets.

As is always the case, successful investing during uncertain times like these is as much about avoiding the losers as it is about picking the winners. Click here now for a full rundown on 3 shares we think you should avoid today plus one top pick worth buying, even if the market turns south and the RBA keeps rates at an "emergency low."

Free Report: 3 Rotten Shares to Sell, and 1 to Buy Today

Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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