Global stocks mixed over US presidential race concerns

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Global stock markets were mixed Thursday, bogged down by concerns over the outcome of next week’s U.S. presidential election and ahead of the Bank of England’s policy meeting.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany’s DAX dipped 0.05 per cent to 10,365.37 in early trading, while France’s CAC 40 was up 0.3 per cent at 4,426.42. Britain’s FTSE 100 edged 0.2 per cent higher to 6,856.79 ahead of economic forecasts by the Bank of England. The central bank is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged. The presidential race continues to cast a pall on U.S. stocks, with the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.2 per cent. However, Dow futures rose 0.05 per cent.

ELECTION JITTERS: Hillary Clinton maintains a lead in polling in the U.S. presidential race but Donald Trump has narrowed the gap. Markets favour a Clinton victory as she is seen as maintaining the status quo. Trump’s policies are less clear, and the uncertainty rocks markets.

QUOTABLE: “Just by looking at the muted market action in the days leading to next week’s decision, seasoned traders recognized this as possibly the calm before the storm,” said Nicholas Teo, trading strategist with KGI Securities in Singapore. “Should Trump win, convention calls for a sell down in USD and USD assets including American equities. This could naturally also drag down global equities.”

Mizuho Bank in Singapore concurred that a “Trump presidency will rattle rather than dazzle.”

FED RATE HIKE: As expected, the Federal Reserve left policy unchanged ahead of the Nov. 8 poll. But it kept the door open for a rate hike in its December meeting. The Fed is waiting for the coast to clear amid the tightening presidential race.

ASIAN SCORECARD: Australia’s S&P ASX/200 fell 0.07 per cent to 5,225.60 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.6 per cent to 22,683.51. Shares also fell in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. The Shanghai Composite bucked the trend to rise 0.8 per cent to 3,128.94, and South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.3 per cent at 1,983.80. Japan’s market was closed for a holiday.

ENERGY: U.S. benchmark oil futures rebounded, rising 25 cents to $45.59 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It sank $1.33 to $45.34 a barrel on Wednesday after a report from the Energy Department showed a sharp buildup in crude oil supplies last week. Brent crude, the international standard, added 26 cents at $47.12 a barrel. It lost $1.28 to $46.86 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 102.89 yen from 103.28 yen, while the euro rose to $1.1097 from $1.1096.