Wall Street dips as Biden nears finish line

Ben PERRY
·3-min read
Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden appears to be on the verge of defeating Donald Trump as returns emerge in outstanding key battleground states
Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden appears to be on the verge of defeating Donald Trump as returns emerge in outstanding key battleground states

World markets lacked momentum Friday after four straight days of rises on Wall Street as vote counting across US battleground states showed Democrat Joe Biden poised for victory.

Monday to Thursday had seen the best four-day streak since April and there was positive US data for traders to peruse as unemployment dropped a full point to 6.9 percent in October, a bigger-than-expected fall.

The US economy also regained 638,000 jobs last month, far more than analysts had been expecting, despite rising coronavirus cases and Congress's failure to pass another spending package to aid the economy's recovery.

The Dow Jones index was down 0.2 percent after two and a half hours of trading on Wall Street as the dollar slipped against other major currencies.

In London, the FTSE 100 closed almost unchanged but still added six percent across the blue chip index's best week since June, a similar pattern to other major European bourses.

Oil fell, with the WTI and Brent Crude falling back around three percent after a volatile week as US President Donald Trump continued making unsubstantiated claims he is being cheated out of election victory.

Latest poll returns appeared to show Biden is on his way to the White House.

US media reported that the challenger had pulled ahead in the key states of Pennsylvania and Georgia. A victory in Pennsylvania alone would give Biden the presidency based on the Electoral College tally.

Despite some profit taking Friday, stocks generally surged over the week on the prospect of a Biden win, on the assumption that would pave the way to a bigger fiscal stimulus package than if Trump were re-elected, noted Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst with ThinkMarkets.

Meanwhile a "Republican-controlled senate will make it unlikely that Trump's corporate tax cuts will be rolled back", he added.

Federal Reserve head Jerome Powell on Thursday said more US stimulus was "absolutely essential" to support the economy.

Heading into the election, Democrats and Republicans failed to reach a deal owing to disputes on the stimulus amount.

The prospect of further monetary easing measures from the Fed and a new stimulus have weighed on the dollar, however, boosting safe haven investment gold.

The rather less traditional haven of Bitcoin meanwhile "blitzed through $15,000 for the first time since the beginning of 2018... as investors rode a momentum trade that has been building up a head of steam ever since PayPal announced it would let users buy, sell and hold a variety of major cryptocurrencies", noted Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com.

Tokyo was the highlight in Asia as the Nikkei jumped 0.9 percent for its highest close in 29 years.

- Key figures around 1750 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 28,365.56

London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 5,910.02 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.7 percent at 12,480.02 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.5 percent at 4,960.88 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,202.92

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.9 percent at 24,367.35 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 25,712.97 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,312.16 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1885 from $1.1832 at 2230 GMT

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 103.32 yen from 103.55 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3173 from $1.3150

Euro/pound: UP at 90.23 pence from 89.92 pence

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 3.2 percent at $37.43 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 2.8 percent at $39.80 per barrel

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