European stock indexes finished sharply higher on Thursday, as investors speculated whether Britain would remain a member of the European Union (EU) after the day's referendum.
The pan-European STOXX 600 ended 1.5 percent up provisionally, despite having lost some of its gains during trade. All sectors closed higher, with autos, banks and basic resources leading the charge.
The Italian FTSE MIB was the outperformer among peripheral stock indexes, popping 3.7 percent.
Global stock markets appeared optimistic ahead of the U.K. vote on EU membership, although opinion polls wavered between giving the leave side and the remain side the lead.
The latest polls by ComRes and YouGov showed a last-minute increase in the number of voters supporting the remain campaign. All of these polls were released prior to the polling stations opening in the U.K. on Thursday.
"I think the market's already voted. ... It looks like they're looking for the stay vote to prevail," Adam Sarhan, CEO of Sarhan Capital, said.
The pound rose to a six-month high against the dollar and traded at around $1.4816 when European stock markets closed.
Investors were more cautious in Asia, where stocks closed mixed on Thursday.
However, Moller-Maersk was Europe's best-performing stock, closing 11.9 percent up after the shipping giant names Soren Skou as its new chief executive.
Meanwhile, Arcelormittal soared 6 percent, after JPMorgan raised its price target for the stock.
Mainland European banks were also in focus on Thursday.
In Italy, Banco Popolare said it had raised the 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) required to complete a merger with Banca Popolare di Milano. This sent shares in both lenders sharply higher, closing up 6.5 and 5.6 percent respectively.