Stock futures jump as potential Washington gridlock signals less regulatory risk

(Reuters) – U.S. stock futures jumped on Thursday on bets that a potential gridlock in Washington could reduce the chance of major policy changes that would hurt corporate America, although concerns remained about the risk of a contested presidential election.

FILE PHOTO: The statue of former U.S. President George Washington is seen across from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) following Election Day in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., November 4, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Democrat Joe Biden moved closer to victory in the race to the White House on Thursday as election officials tallied votes in the handful of states that would determine the outcome, while Republican President Donald Trump filed lawsuits and called for recounts.

Meanwhile, Republicans appeared poised to retain control of the U.S. Senate, which would make it more difficult for a Biden presidency to deliver on promises to rein in Big Tech and other businesses.

“The outcome of the election in terms of the potential for a Democratic President and a Republican Senate is in many ways the best news for markets because it prevents more extreme policies,” said Jonathan Bell, chief investment officer at Stanhope Capital in London.

Shares of technology mega-caps including Apple Inc, Inc and Alphabet Corp rose more than 2% each in early premarket trading, building on a rally of more than 4% on Wednesday.

Renewable energy, infrastructure, marijuana and trade-sensitive stocks, which analysts have identified as winning under a Biden administration, all edged higher after widely underperforming Wall Street in the previous session.

But investors also sought the safety of bonds as the divided Congress would dent the prospect of a bumper fiscal stimulus package – critical to reviving the economy from a coronavirus-triggered recession. [US/]

Attention later in the day will also be on the Federal Reserve’s latest policy statement after a two-day meeting, but with the final result of the election still uncertain, the central bank is expected to repeat its pledge to do whatever it can to help the economy.

Wall Street’s main indexes had surged on Wednesday to close at their highest levels in more than a week, with the benchmark S&P 500 posting its best day since June and the tech-heavy Nasdaq since April.

At 5:16 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 352 points, or 1.27%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 61.5 points, or 1.79%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 321.75 points, or 2.74%.

Energy stocks such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron slipped 0.3% and 0.9%, respectively, tracking oil prices. [O/R]

Graphic: Trump and the stock market –

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