Stock markets and U.S. futures were volatile on Wednesday as the world awaited results of tight races in battleground states that will determine the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.
Markets were jolted but soon recovered after President Donald Trump, in an early morning appearance at the White House, made premature claims of victories in several key states.
As of 6 a.m. Eastern time, Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden still were awaiting vote counts from a handful of key states.
Republican Donald Trump said, “Frankly, we did win this election.”That assertion did not match the results and information available to the AP. At the time, neither candidate had secured the 270 electoral college votes needed to claim victory.
Trump said he would take the election to the Supreme Court. It was unclear exactly what legal action he might try to pursue, but a contested election was among the worst scenarios anticipated by investors hoping for an end to the uncertainty after a long, bruising campaign.
“Basically, we are seeing a nightmare situation come true because now we are talking about legal battles,” said Naeem Aslam, analyst at Avatrade.com.
Most polls had predicted a Biden victory, and many investors took the forecasts of a so-called “blue wave” of Democratic Party wins to mean the U.S. economy might soon get a big, fresh infusion of help. But with the race too close to call, some analysts said they also might be reassured by the prospect for a continuation of Trump’s pro-market stance.
“Markets seem to be pricing in better chances for Trump, or at least a smaller chance of a blue wave,” Stephen Innes of Axi said in a commentary.
“On the one hand with the fiscal implications of a Biden win/blue wave that’s a bit of a surprise — on the other Trump is widely considered more market-friendly, so one can see how it nets out a small positive,” Innes said.
Dow futures were down 0.1% after falling 1.5% following Trump’s announcement. The S&P 500 future contract rose 0.6%, after dropping 1.1%.
In European trading, Germany’s DAX recovered from early losses, gaining 0.1% to 12,103. In Paris, the CAC 40 in Paris rose 0.4% to 4,823. Britain’s FTSE 100 advanced 0.3% to 5,805.
In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo advanced 1.7% to close at 23,695.23 while the Kospi in Seoul added 0.6%, to 2,357.17. India’s Sensex rose 0.9% and the S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney lost 0.1% to 6,062.10.
The Hang Seng in Hong Kong declined 0.2% to 24,893.59, while the Shanghai Composite Index edged 0.2% higher, to 3,277.44.
The 2016 election rattled world markets as results showed Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton. The S&P 500 slumped early the next day, but ended 1.1% higher.
This time around, market players are waiting to see if the election brings four more years of Trump’s “America 1st” approach to trade and other policies or an administration more likely to work with other countries on such issues as climate change.
The large number of Americans who voted early means the result of this presidential election might not be known for days. A contested election would inflict still more uncertainty on markets buffeted by bouts of volatility as the coronavirus pandemic has waxed and waned.
“The market hates uncertainty and if we have continued uncertainty, then we’re going to see prices fall, we’re going to see volatility remaining high,” said Kiran Ganesh, analyst at UBS bank.
History shows stocks tend to rise regardless of which party controls the White House. But investors are keen to see a clear winner from this election, even if it takes some time.
The makeup of the Senate is another unknown overhanging the markets, given the potential for legislative gridlock. Another is the timing of a possible COVID-19 vaccine that could save lives and help heal the economy.
While investors and economists have been clamouring for a renewal of stimulus after the expiration of an earlier round of support from Congress, many professional investors say what matters most is what happens with the pandemic.
Apart from the election, investors are awaiting the Federal Reserve’s decision on its interest-rate policy on Thursday. Its earlier moves to slash interest rates to record lows and to step forcefully into bond markets to push prices higher have helped Wall Street soar since March.
The Labor Department is also releasing its jobs report for October on Friday, where economists expect to see another slowdown in growth. Meanwhile, corporate earnings reports are showing lower profits in the last quarter, but not as miserable as Wall Street had feared.
In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 94 cents to $38.60 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, picked up $1.01 to $40.72 per barrel.
The dollar bought 104.60 Japanese yen, down from 104.95 late Tuesday. The euro weakened to $1.1698 from $1.1718.
The Associated Press’ Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.