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Central banks flex muscles to soften Brexit blow

A British flag which was washed away by heavy rains the day before lies on the street in London, Britain, June 24, 2016 after Britain voted to leave the European Union in the EU BREXIT referendum. REUTERS/Reinhard Krause

LONDON (Reuters) - A number of central banks around the world geared up to take action or intervened in their markets on Friday in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

The Bank of England said it could provide more than 250 billion pounds plus “substantial” access to foreign currency to ease any squeeze in markets, while the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank said they were ready to offer liquidity through existing swap lines. The Bank of Japan also signalled readiness to intervene to stem excessive yen strength.

Below is a list of central banks that have already taken action in the wake of Britain’s EU referendum.

SWITZERLAND - The Swiss National Bank provided rare confirmation that it had intervened in the currency market to weaken the Swiss franc in the wake of the vote. The safe-haven franc hit its highest level against the euro since August 2015 and had its biggest one-day jump since the SNB removed its franc peg to the euro on Jan. 15, 2015.

NORWAY - Norway’s central bank pumped 23.2 billion Norwegian crowns ($2.73 billion) into its commercial banking system. While providing funds through “F-loans” auctions is a frequently used policy tool, it came with an unusually early deadline and was accompanied by a statement that said the bank was continuously assessing the liquidity situation.

SERBIA - Dealers say the Serbian central bank sold euros on the local market to bolster the dinar after it tumbled to its weakest level on record against the euro.

SOUTH KOREA - South Korean foreign exchange authorities were believed to be selling dollars to curb the won’s fall amid Brexit fears, multiple traders told Reuters on Friday.

INDIA - The Reserve Bank of India likely sold dollars through state-owned banks to prevent the rupee sliding further, according to traders, after the currency fell to its weakest since March.

CHINA - Traders said state-owned banks were offering dollar liquidity in the market - a tactic the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) often employs when intervening - as China’s yuan slumped to more than 5-year lows. But that was seen more as an attempt to avert a cash squeeze at the end of the half year next week, as has happened previously, rather than as a response to the Brexit vote.

Compiled by Karin Strohecker