S&P, Nasdaq futures rise in volatile trade as election race tightens

FAN Editor
The New York Stock Exchange is pictured
FILE PHOTO: The New York Stock Exchange is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

November 4, 2020

By Sagarika Jaisinghani and Susan Mathew

(Reuters) – Futures tracking the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq indexes rose in volatile trading on Wednesday as investors faced the prospect of a drawn-out and potentially contested U.S. election result after President Donald Trump took the lead in some key states.

Both Trump and Biden claimed they were on course for victory after results for a majority of states were called. Trump went further, claiming falsely that the election was being “stolen” from him with millions of votes still uncounted.

The knife-edge election and the prospect of an acrimonious legal battle to determine the winner sent S&P e-mini futures tumbling 1.15% earlier, but they recovered to trade up 0.5% by 5:54 a.m. ET (1054 GMT).

“The indecisiveness in futures is not surprising because we don’t yet have a clear result,” said Nicolas Janvier, head of U.S. equities at Columbia Threadneedle in London.

Trump won the battlegrounds of Florida, Ohio and Texas, dashing Biden’s hopes for a decisive early victory, but Biden said he was confident and was on track to winning the White House by taking three key Rust Belt states.

Investors have said they favor a definitive, fast resolution to the election as that would clear the way for a deal on a stimulus package to help the damaged U.S. economy. Analysts have also said the market will be comfortable with a clear Trump victory.

Shares of technology mega-caps including Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Nvidia Corp surged more than 2% in premarket trading with some investors pointing to a lower threat of antitrust scrutiny for Big Tech under Trump than under a Biden presidency.

Some infrastructure, renewable energy and marijuana stocks, seen as likely winners from a Biden presidency, sank as much as 7%.

“Generally, the Biden blue-wave train is favorable to mid-caps, cyclicals and stocks exposed to trade with emerging markets so people are having to move quickly back into the secular growth names and some of the traditional energy stocks,” said Kiran Ganesh, multi-asset strategist at UBS Global Wealth Management’s chief investment office in London.

Still, the prospect of political uncertainty also sent investors to U.S. Treasuries, sparking the biggest one-day drop in 10- and 30-year bond yields since June. Shares of U.S. banks, which typically track Treasury yields, slipped between 1.1% and 2.5%.

Graphic: “Biden” shares vs “Trump” shares – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/qzjpqabydpx/Pasted%20image%201604472007624.png

At 5:54 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 31 points, or 0.11%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 272.25 points, or 2.42%.

Meanwhile, Republicans held off Democratic challengers in five of the 14 most competitive races in the U.S. Senate, bolstering their chances of retaining a majority in the 100-seat chamber, although the final outcome may not be clear for some time.

On election night in 2016, U.S. futures plunged as Trump pulled off an upset victory against Democrat Hillary Clinton. However, the next day marked the start of the so-called “Trump rally” that saw the S&P 500 jump 5% in a month, fueled by promises of massive tax cuts and financial deregulation.

The S&P 500 has climbed about 57% since Trump’s election in 2016, with the information technology index surging 149% and energy tumbling 56%, according to Datastream.

Graphic: S&P 500 in first terms: Trump vs Obama – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/ygdvznodzvw/Pasted%20image%201604467379861.png

(Additional reporting by Noel Randewich, Alun John and Ambar Warrick; Editing by Sam Holmes, Shri Navaratnam and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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