Monday, October 18, 2021
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U.S. stocks close broadly higher as investors eye election

🕐 4 min read

Investors remained in a buying mood on Election Day, sending U.S. stocks broadly higher and building on big gains from a day earlier.

Safe-play stocks such as utilities and phone companies were among the biggest gainers Tuesday. Energy companies were essentially flat.

Investors focused on the U.S. presidential election, which rattled financial markets in recent weeks as polls between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tightened.

Wall Street has largely seen Clinton as more likely to maintain the status quo, while viewing Trump’s polices as less clear. Tuesday’s rally, coupled with Monday’s market gains, which marked the end of a nine-day losing streak and the best day for stocks since March, suggest the market anticipated a Clinton win.

“The market has been looking for the status quo result, and the polling in the last couple of days shows that result is a good likelihood,” said Mike Baele, senior portfolio manager at the Private Client Reserve at U.S. Bank. “That’s the reason why the market is bouncing here.”

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 73.14 points, or 0.4 percent, to 18,332.74. The average was briefly up as much as 140 points. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 8.04 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,139.56. The Nasdaq composite index added 27.32 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,193.49.

Trading got off to a downbeat start, weighed down by disappointing earnings from Valeant Pharmaceuticals, CVS Health and other companies. But the market recovered by midmorning as investors’ sized up news reports on early voting trends.

Clinton entered Election Day with multiple paths to victory, while Trump needed to prevail in most of the battleground states to reach 270 Electoral College votes. Control of the Senate was also at stake.

Investors have been expecting Clinton to win the presidency, the Democrats to take back the Senate and the Republicans to hold on to the House of Representatives, said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank.

“That’s sort of the base case,” he said. “A Trump victory, the markets are not fully ready for that. That could certainly cause some volatility in the markets tomorrow if we have that outcome, and if it’s conclusive.”

Beyond the election, investors monitored the latest batch of company earnings.

Priceline Group climbed 6.6 percent after the online travel booking company reported quarterly earnings that easily beat analysts’ forecasts. The stock gained $97.80 to $1,578.13.

Marriott International gained 2.7 percent after the hotel chain posted a big increase in earnings and revenue for the most recent quarter. The stock added $1.92 to $73.02.

SeaWorld Entertainment jumped 8.1 percent after the embattled parks operator said it has been able to stem falling attendance after a bruising fight with animal rights activists that led to the closure of its orca breeding program. The stock gained $1.16 to $15.41.

Other companies’ latest quarterly report cards failed to impress investors.

Hertz plunged 22.5 percent after the car rental company’s latest quarterly earnings came up far short of what analysts anticipated. The stock, which was down more than 50 percent at one point, slid $8.04 to $27.70.

CVS Health tumbled 11.8 percent after the drugstore chain and pharmacy benefits manager’s third-quarter revenue fell short of Wall Street’s expectations. The company also trimmed its outlook. The stock shed $9.86 to $73.53.

Depomed sank 17 percent after the drugmaker reported lower-than-anticipated quarterly earnings. The stock dropped $3.88 to $19.01.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International slumped 21.7 percent after the Canadian drugmaker reported a third-quarter loss. The company also slashed its guidance as it continues to face scrutiny over its business practices. The stock lost $4.15 to $14.98.

Markets overseas closed mostly higher. In Europe, Germany’s DAX rose 0.2 percent, while France’s CAC-40 gained 0.4 percent. London’s FTSE 100 added 0.5 percent. Earlier in Asia, stock indexes closed mostly higher. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.5 percent, while Seoul’s Kospi added 0.3 percent. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was little changed.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 9 cents to close at $44.98 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 11 cents to close at $46.04 a barrel in London. Other energy futures were also mixed. Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.37 a gallon. Heating oil also held steady at $1.44 a gallon. Natural gas fell 18 cents, or 6.5 percent, to $2.63 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In metals trading, the price of gold slid $4.90 to $1,274.50 an ounce, while silver gained 21 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $18.36 an ounce. Copper added 7 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $2.38 a pound.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.86 percent from 1.83 percent late Monday.

In currency markets, the dollar rose to 105.05 yen from 104.58 yen. The euro weakened to $1.1016 from $1.1040. The Mexican peso, which has become an indirect proxy among investors for Trump’s chances to win the White House, rose against the dollar. The U.S. currency fell to 18.42 Mexican pesos from 18.68 pesos.

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