US futures slip after Trump’s premature claim of victory

AP – United States (US) futures slipped and oil prices dropped yesterday after US President Donald Trump, in an early morning appearance at the White House, prematurely claimed victories in several key states.

Earlier, Wall Street futures and Asian shares had posted gains as investors took an optimistic stance on the election’s still undecided outcome.

Republican Donald Trump said, “Frankly, we did win this election.”

That assertion does not match the results and information currently 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 bruising campaign.

Many investors took earlier forecasts of a so-called “blue wave” of Democratic Party wins as a signal that the US 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.

A man walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP

“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 fell 1.5 per cent and the S&P 500 future contract dropped 1.1 per cent. Both initially fell as election returns began coming in but had rebounded.

The Nasdaq future contract rose 1.1 per cent.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo advanced 1.7 per cent to 23,695.23 yesterday, while the Kospi in Seoul added 0.6 per cent, to 2,357.17. India’s Sensex surged 0.9 per cent and the S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney lost 0.1 per cent to 6,062.10.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong declined 0.2 per cent to 24,893.59, while the Shanghai Composite Index edged 0.2 per cent higher, to 3,277.44.

Investors were considering the implications of a last-minute decision by Chinese regulators to suspend the planned trading debut for shares in Ant Group, the fin-tech affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba, after what was expected to be a nearly USD35 billion initial public offering.

The decision late Tuesday caused the plans for trading in Shanghai and Hong Kong to be put off due to what the Chinese stock market watchdog said were “major issues” with Ant Group’s regulatory compliance.

The 2016 election rattled world markets as results showed Donald Trump was running ahead of Hillary Clinton.

The S&P 500 slumped early the next day, but ended 1.1 per cent higher.

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.

Investors are most eager to see a clear winner from this election, even if it takes some time. History shows stocks tend to rise regardless of which party controls the White House.

The make-up of the Senate is another unknown overhanging the markets.

Another is the timing of a possible COVID-19 vaccine.

Investors and economists have been clamouring for a renewal of stimulus since the expiration of the last round of supplemental benefits for laid-off workers and other support approved earlier by Congress.

If Trump wins and the Senate stays under Republican control there would likely be less stimulus than under a Democratic sweep, said Chief Investment Officer for Independent Advisor Alliance Chris Zaccarelli.

A Biden win and Republican Senate would mean the lowest chance for stimulus.

But investors see cause for optimism in other scenarios, too. A Trump victory would likely mean a continuation of lower tax rates and lighter regulation on businesses, buoying the corporate profits that are the lifeblood of the stock market.

Many professional investors said what matters most is what happens with the pandemic and whether a vaccine can arrive soon to help the economy heal.

Apart from the election, investors are awaiting the Federal Reserve’s decision on its interest-rate policy today.

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 Labour Department is also releasing its jobs report for October tomorrow, 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, US benchmark crude oil lost 11 cents to USD37.56 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It had gained more than USD1 earlier in the day. Brent crude, the international standard, gave up three cents to USD39.68 per barrel.