U.S. indexes waver as traders use caution ahead of election

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks were mostly unchanged on Monday, despite some positive economic data and a raft of big new merger announcements over the weekend.

Hesitant traders continue to watch the day-to-day developments of the U.S. presidential election, which is slightly more than a week away.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 18.77 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,142.42. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.26 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 2,126.15 and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.97 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 5,189.13.

With Monday’s close the major indexes ended the month of October broadly lower. The Dow fell 0.9 percent, the S&P 500 fell 1.94 percent and the Nasdaq fell 2.3 percent. It was the third-straight month of declines.

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The news out late last week regarding newly found emails related to Hillary Clinton’s email practices threw the election’s results into more uncertainty, which investors typically don’t like. Over the weekend, the FBI obtained a warrant to begin reviewing newly discovered emails that may be relevant to the Hillary Clinton email investigation, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

“The reopening of the email investigation into Hillary Clinton certainly throws a wrench into the Presidential election now just eight days away,” said John Briggs, head of fixed income strategy for the Americas at RBS, in a note to investors.

Along with the election, investors have two heavyweight events on the economic front this week: a meeting of the Federal Reserve and the October jobs report. It’s widely expected that the Fed’s policymakers will not raise interest rates so close to the election and will wait until the December meeting to raise rates. However, any economic observations from the bank will be important to investors. The jobs report will be the last major piece of economic data out before the Nov. 8 election.

It’s also a busy week for corporate earnings, with more than one-fifth of S&P 500 companies reporting their quarterly results.

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Wall Street got another wave of mega mergers over the weekend. General Electric announced it would merge its oil and gas division with Baker Hughes, creating a new company with $32 billion in annual revenue. GE rose fell 12 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $29.10 while Baker Hughes fell $3.72, or 6.3 percent, to $55.40.

Separately, telecommunications company CenturyLink announced it was purchasing competitor Level 3 Communications for $24 billion. CenturyLink fell $3.81, or 12.5 percent, to $26.58 and Level 3 rose $2.10, or 4 percent, to $56.15. Earlier this month AT&T announced it would buy Time Warner for $80 billion.

The wave of mergers was not limited to the U.S. On Monday three of Japan’s largest shipping companies announced they would merge their shipping container operations.

U.S. government bond prices rose slightly. The yield on 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.83 percent from 1.85 percent on Friday. The dollar rose against the euro, British pound and the Japanese yen.

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U.S. benchmark oil futures extended their losses after falling last week to their lowest price this month. Crude fell $1.84 to $46.86 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, fell $1.41 to $48.30 a barrel.

In other energy commodities, wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.45 a gallon and heating oil fell 5 cents to $1.496 a gallon. Natural gas fell 8 cents to $3.026 per thousand cubic feet.

METALS: The price of gold fell $3.70 to $1,273.10 an ounce, silver was unchanged at $17.80 an ounce and copper edged up 1 cent to $2.21 a pound.

AP reporter Eric Tucker contributed to this report from Washington.