Stock market

Futures jump in volatile trade as election race tightens

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures swung to gains 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.

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 1.3% by 4:38 a.m. ET (0938 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 for months have said they favor a definitive, fast resolution to the election. Quickly settling the election would clear the way for a deal on a stimulus package to help the damaged U.S. economy. Analysts and traders have said the market would be comfortable with a clear Trump victory.

Shares of technology mega-caps including Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) Corp surged more than 3% in premarket trading with some investors pointing to a lower threat of antitrust scrutiny for Big Tech under Trump than under a Biden presidency.

Still, the prospect of prolonged 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 0.6% and 1.4%.

Some infrastructure, renewable energy and marijuana stocks, which analysts have identified as likely winners from a Biden presidency, sank between 1.4% and 10.6%.

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

By 9:38 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 130 points, or 0.47%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 353.75 points, or 3.14%.

Early results also suggested the Democrats were less likely than previously expected to take the Senate from Republicans in a so-called blue wave, which could mean a more modest stimulus deal.

On election night 2016, U.S. stock index 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.

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