With control of Congress hanging in the balance, and key races still too-close-to-call following last night’s mid-term elections, markets are looking to a cautious open on Wall Street.
U.S. equity futures slipped lower Wednesday, while the dollar remained steady against a basket of its global currency peers, as investors kept risky bets in check while they await a clear indication of results from last night’s mid-term elections.
With all 435 House seats up for grabs, as well as 35 seats in the Senate, control of Congress remained in the balance in the early hours of Wednesday morning, with many tight races too close to call, and many others just getting their counting processes underway.
Nonetheless, media projections suggest the Democrats may have won a surprise victory in Pennsylvania, with John Fetterman toping Mehmet Oz for the state’s vacant seat. That could prove crucial for Democrats if they want to hold onto control of the Senate — where they current have the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris — and thwart the expected Republican sweep of Congress.
Republicans are likely to take the House, however, tipping the current balance of power over the final two years of President Joe Biden’s term and providing markets with the kind of ‘gridlocked’ government that typically supports stock performance. At the time of writing, GOP candidates looked to have picked up at least nine seats in the House, compared to three for the Democrats.
“Ultimately the market is clinging to the view that the split power will be beneficial for markets as more extreme policies are gridlocked out and watered down. But ultimately what does gridlock in the current environment mean for the ability to deliver requisite policy and enable the US economy to emerge out of the current situation?” said Stuart Clark, portfolio manager at Quilter Investors.
“The shift to a split executive/legislative will likely fail to boost the market as other forces overwhelm, primarily the inflation and growth dynamics. As such, investors will need to remain calm and patient while the political risk plays out,” he added.
Investor focus is likely to shift quickly from election results to the Federal Reserve‘s inflation fight, however, given that markets will digest a key reading of October CPI tomorrow amid easing price pressures and the paring of big rate hike bets from the Fed’s December meeting.
Overnight in China, in fact, data showed producer prices declining for the first time in nearly two years, suggesting that county’s ability to ‘export deflation’ could be revived when its economy wriggles out from under its current ‘zero Covid’ health policies.
Benchmark Treasury bond yields slipped to 4.138% in overnight dealing ahead of a $40 billion auction later today, while the U.S. dollar index was marked 0.12% higher against a basket of its global peers at 109.763.
Bitcoin prices extended declines, falling around 2% to trade firmly south of the $18,000 mark, following yesterday’s shocking revelation that crypto trading platform Binance will buy its rival, FTX.com.
Early readings from U.S. equity futures suggest a cautious day of trading on Wall Street as the mid-term results are counted, with contracts tied to the S&P 500 priced for a 20 point opening bell decline and those linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average looking at a 95 point pullback. The tech-focused Nasdaq is called just 5 points lower.
Disney (DIS) – Get Free Report shares, a Dow component, were marked 7.4% lower in pre-market after the media and entertainment giant posted weaker-than-expected fourth quarter earnings as the cost of overtaking Netflix (NFLX) – Get Free Report as the world’s biggest platform ate into its bottom line.
Meta Platforms (META) – Get Free Report, on the other hand, jumped 3.7% after it unveiled plans to slash 13% of its workforce in the first major round of job cuts in company history amid mounting losses in its metaverse project and a pullback in ad spending that continues to hit sales at its flagship Facebook division.
Tesla (TSLA) – Get Free Report shares were also active, rising 1.8%, after Securities & Exchange Commission filings showed CEO Elon Musk has sold another $3.95 billion in company stock as he continues to find cash for his recent acquisition of Twitter.
In overseas markets, China stocks extended declines on the back of accelerating Covid infections and PPI date underscoring demand weakness in the world’s second largest economy, pulling the region-wide MSCI ex-Japan index to a modest 0.38% gain.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 fell 0.41% by mid-day trading in Frankfurt as it tracked U.S. equity futures while Britain’s FTSE 100 was marked 0.25% lower in London.