(Reuters) – U.S. stock market futures jumped on Wednesday in Asia as voting projections in the U.S. presidential election swung to show lower odds for a Joe Biden sweep, a close race and possibly a long wait for the outcome.FILE PHOTO: A man wears a protective mask as he walks past the New York Stock Exchange on the corner of Wall and Broad streets during the coronavirus outbreak in New York City, New York, U.S., March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Investors had hoped to avoid a prolonged process that would delay any stimulus to help an economy reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.
E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 ESc1 were up 1.65% during a volatile session.
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Signs that President Donald Trump could win Florida dampened expectations of a quick outcome and saw 10-year Treasury yields drop to 0.84% US10YT=RR from a five-month top of 0.93%.
The U.S. dollar gained 0.7% on a basket of currencies to 94.20 =USD.
BRIAN BETHUNE, CHIEF ECONOMIST, ALPHA ECONOMIC FORESIGHTS LLC, BOSTON
“It’s still early. It’s a little tighter than most people had expected. As the map fills out, you could easily see swings of 10-20 basis points on the U.S. Treasury 10-year note.
“If the Republicans control the Senate they won’t be as much interested in a big stimulus. Markets actually prefer gridlock. It keeps things from being tilted one way or the other, whether it’s on spending or taxes. This is the issue: markets would rather have a predictable environment in terms of taxes and trade, as opposed to not knowing what tariffs will hit them in the next six months. So one ‘predictable’ path would be a continuation of the current regime, or for the Senate to see a lot of Democratic gains but a Trump White House.”
MAX GOKHMAN, HEAD OF ASSET ALLOCATION, PACIFIC LIFE FUND ADVISORS, NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA
“It is very important not to extrapolate too much from these first numbers. While Biden may lose Florida, he may win Texas where the polls just closed. And that would carry more electoral college votes and be a much bigger upset. This will be a wild night at best and maybe a wild 48 hours.
“The market impact will be pretty volatile. The irony is that because some investors, including us, moved to more neutral positions, any moves can be amplified and make conditions that much more volatile. The question is will it come down to Pennsylvania and Ohio. I will be up for hours and think that sleep is something I’ll be getting on Thursday.”
MATT SHERWOOD, HEAD OF INVESTMENT STRATEGY, PERPETUAL, SYDNEY
“At the moment there are no firm conclusions to make other than it looks like Trump’s won Florida, and so therefore, that opens up a path to victory for him and it all comes down to the Midwest.
“It’s a wait-and-see. I wouldn’t be flipping portfolios or making asset allocation decisions based on partial state results yet. You’re just going to have to sit back and wait for the result to actually reveal itself.
“I think the odds of a clean sweep are diminishing, almost by the minute. That reduces the possibility, or the likelihood at least of a large stimulus program being agreed to in the first days of a Biden administration.”
LEI WANG, PORTFOLIO MANAGER, THORNBURG INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT
“The election outcome – or lack thereof – will not prompt any major changes to our holdings across sectors or geographies.
“In fact, an unknown outcome or a contested election scenario would likely add a risk premium in the short term, triggering risk-off behaviours and elevated volatility. But once the dust settles…the market will go back to focusing on the long-term implications of the winner’s policies, many of which we have been able to contemplate and price in throughout the campaign.”
TONY ROTH, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, WILMINGTON TRUST INVESTMENT, PENNSYLVANIA
“Unless Biden can hold onto Ohio tonight or potentially North Carolina, which looks like a very dim prospect right now, given the rate at which the president seems to be catching up, it appears that we’re not going to know the election outcome for some time, which is going to be tough for the market to digest…We thought coming in that Biden had a very strong chance of winning this, but I think those chances are coming down.”
TIM GHRISKEY, CHIEF INVESTMENT STRATEGIST, INVERNESS COUNSEL, NEW YORK
“Once again, it seems like the pollsters got it wrong. The states that are expected to be in play are still in play. If it’s a Trump administration, it’s going to be the same, maybe accentuated, because he has nothing to fear. The cold war with China will be worse. The lack of support for states and local governments will be worse. The support for the stimulus will be watered down. It will not be very supportive of the broader population.
“If it’s Trump, you are not going to see a big package. There is a risk with the virus becoming more widespread, and that’s not good for the economy. Regardless of who is elected, we will still have a vaccine. Big tech will probably rally if Trump is re-elected because of a lack of regulation and effort to break them up.”
DAVID R. KOTOK, CHAIRMAN AND CIO, CUMBERLAND ADVISORS, FLORIDA
“The market wanted a decisive blue wave and to do that it needed Florida early. Markets were discounting the big blue wave so futures have turned red.
“In the selloff last week we raised our allocations (to U.S. stocks) We took advantage of the selloff and it looked to us that the selloff reached extremes in sentiment…and so far that has been a good trade.
“I’m a believer that when you remove uncertainty in a political race like this, the removal of the uncertainty means that markets go up and I believe we have had a very high uncertainty premium which reflected in extreme last week.
“My biggest worry is violent reaction in the country and the stretching out of the decision. We went through one of those 20 years ago. Part of the mindset of people is that market agents were prepped for that. What they are not prepped for is civil unrest that becomes decisively violent. That is my biggest fear.”
YUICHI MURAO, SENIOR INVESTMENT OFFICER, NOMURA ASSET MANAGEMENT, TOKYO
“The markets appear to have priced in a Biden victory to some extent, which is why we saw environment stocks outperform and energy stocks and tech stocks fare relatively weak. The market was worried about corporate tax hikes.
“In the case of a Trump victory, there will be policy continuity, which means not much negative impact on corporate earnings but smaller fiscal stimulus than what a Biden government would likely deliver.
THOMAS HAYES, CHAIRMAN, GREAT HILL CAPITAL, NEW YORK
“I think the market came with a strong expectation of a blue wave and now they have to look at a status quo situation. If Trump wins, the corporate rate will remain the same, which is the biggest issue for the stock market where it might lose up to $20 of S&P earnings if tax rates go up.
“The best case is going to be a gridlock, either for a Biden or Trump presidency. I think the market is repricing its assumptions. If you don’t have a blue wave, you gonna have a smaller stimulus.”
SIMON WESTON, SENIOR PORTFOLIO MANAGER ASIAN EQUITY, AXA INVESTMENT MANAGERS, HONG KONG
“Markets went into the election count looking like they were expecting a ‘blue wave’ or at least a conclusive win for Biden.
“However, counting so far suggests that the results will be much closer than this, with the key state of Florida looking like it will go for Trump. This raises the prospect that we might get a contested election, or at least one where we will not get a result for some time as votes take time to be counted.
“This higher uncertainty has seen a lot of these early trades reverse – with the dollar appreciating and markets selling off from opening highs … this caution will likely continue until and unless we get a clearer indication of the outcome.”
JAKE DOLLARHIDE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, LONGBOW ASSET MANAGEMENT, TULSA, OKLAHOMA
“The blue sweep argument is about immediate stimulus, like a sugar high. Trump doing better than investors thought is ultimate chaos. If you expect a blue sweep and all of a sudden Trump looks competitive and looks like he could win, then you throw caution to the wind. If Republicans start winning Senate seats again and you have gridlock, the market could go down. But longer term, you could lead to lower taxes and higher stock prices as the recovery trade continues.
“S&P futures favor a sugar high, a blue sweep is great. The market is thinking shorter-term. The market favors certainty, and Trump appearing to do better than investors thought is uncertainty.”
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