USA TODAY - On the eve of the U.S. presidential election, the Dow closed up 371 points Monday after FBI director James Comey said the agency is not recommending criminal charges against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over her emails.
The broad market broke a nine-day losing streak, Wall Street's longest in 36 years, as investors again started to price in their base case of a Clinton win and split Congress.
In a letter to lawmakers Sunday, Comey said the FBI is standing by its original findings, made in July, that Clinton should not be prosecuted for her handling of classified information over email as secretary of State. Comey, of course, had roiled the financial markets back on Friday, Oct. 28, when he sent a letter to Congress saying he was reviewing more emails tied to Clinton found in an unrelated case.
The S&P 500 closed up 46.34 points, or 2.2%, to 2131.52, snapping a nine-session losing streak, its longest skid since December 1980. The losing streak was caused in part by a tightening in the polls, as Wall Street had been pricing in a Clinton win before Trump's surge in the polls. The broad index has wiped out two-thirds of its losses it suffered in nine-session swoon.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 371.32 points, or 2.1%, to 18,259.60. The Nasdaq composite finished 119.80 points, or 2.4%, higher at 5166.17.
Investors around the globe responded bullishly to news that the FBI investigation related to Clinton's emails was over, as they interpreted the news as boosting Clinton's chance to win the tight election race with Republican challenger Donald Trump as well as clearing a legal hurdle for Clinton in the event that she does prevail tomorrow on Election Day.
Clinton is viewed as a more status quo candidate and, therefore, more palatable to Wall Street. Trump, who is more unpredictable, is viewed less market-friendly by investors as it is hard to get a good handle on what a Trump administration might look like and how his views on trade would impact asset prices around the world.
So-called safe haven assets, which had been rallying in recent days as Trump briefly narrowed the gap in the polls, were selling off as investors moved back into stocks and other assets that will benefit from a Clinton win. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves in the opposite direction of price, ticked up to 1.825%, from 1.807% Friday. Similarly, gold, often viewed as a haven in tough market environments, plunged $22.30 per ounce, or 1.7%, to 1,282.30 an ounce. The Japanese yen, which often enjoys inflows during turbulent times, also fell, with the yen declining 1.4% vs. the U.S. dollar.
But not all investors were giving up their Trump-focused positions just yet. The reason: the polls may be wrong and Trump may still engineer a surprise win. And cause market's to hemorrhage and provide a big rally for so-called Trump-friendly assets like gold and biotech and drug stocks.
“No one should conclude that this campaign is over or that Hillary is going to win," says Luke Hickmore, senior fixed income manager at Aberdeen Asset Management. "Financial markets are edging towards Clinton largely because of polling, and we saw in the U.K.’s Brexit referendum how wrong that can be. The memory of that referendum should loom large in investors’ memories because so much of the polling was wrong then."
The rally was broad-based with all 30 Dow stocks rising and the financial sector making the biggest gains. Shares of Goldman Sachs (GS) closed up 3.2%, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) rose 3.1% and American Express (AXP) gained 2.3%.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index surged 1.6% to finish at 17,177.21, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.7% to 22,801.40. The Shanghai composite index added 0.3% to close at 3,133.33.
Germany's DAX index and France's CAC 40 were up 1.9% and Britain's FTSE 100 was up 1.7%.
“This (latest FBI news) will surely boost the chance of Clinton’s victory. Barring another unexpected scandal on her side, it looks likely that she will win the race," said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities in Tokyo, according to Reuters.
“Given that the market had been slipping for nine days, there will be short-covering," Fujito added.
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