US equity-index futures posted modest gains amid volatile trading as investors weighed the prospect of a Congress gridlock after midterm elections.
The December contract on the Nasdaq 100 Index rose 0.4%, while that on the S&P 500 was 0.1% higher, after fluctuating between gains and losses during Asian hours. Europe’s equity benchmark fell at the open. A selloff in cryptocurrencies continued, sending Bitcoin toward the biggest four-day slump since June. Treasuries rallied and the dollar weakened for a fourth day. Oil fell on a sluggish demand outlook from China.
Equity and bond investors have been hoping for a Republican comeback in Congress, with the best outcome seen as GOP control of both the House of Representatives and Senate. Dollar bulls, on the other hand, sought Democratic control continuing in both chambers. Trends so far suggest a mixed verdict, leaving little room for a rally or decisive selloff.
“The stock market historically has performed well after midterm elections and during third years of presidential cycles,” according to a note from Yardeni Research. “But none of these positive political cyclical trends will make much difference if inflation remains elevated, which would force the Fed to cause a hard landing of the economy.”
Republicans made gains in their drive to take control of Congress but many of the closest races had yet to be called. The final outcome may not be known for days or even weeks if the results are as close as polls have suggested and if losers challenge results.
Optimism for shares has been helped by a history of robust performance following midterm results. Stocks have tended to flourish during times when government is constrained and polls suggest Republicans could make gains, placing a check on Democratic policies.
Treasuries advanced across the curve, with the 10-year yield shedding 1 basis point. Sovereign bonds in Europe also gained, with the two-year German rate sliding 9 basis points.
Shares of Chinese developers jumped the most in eight months as a regulator expanded financing support for the sector, bucking weakness in broader indexes in Hong Kong and the mainland.
Cryptocurrencies slipped further as Binance Holdings Ltd.’s potential takeover of embattled rival exchange FTX.com highlighted how strains in the digital-asset industry are buffeting some of its top players. Bitcoin traded 3% lower at about $18,100 apiece.
Thursday’s consumer-price-index data may be the next event risk for the Fed’s policy rate and comes on the heels of core consumer prices rising more than forecast to a 40-year high in September. Even if prices begin to moderate, the CPI is far above the central bank’s comfort zone.
“The market is still going to fixate on inflation, which is going to stay high and sticky at least over the next couple of quarters,” Luke Barrs, global head of fundamental equity client portfolio management at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, said on Bloomberg Television.
Key events this week:
- EIA oil inventory report, Wednesday
- US wholesale inventories, MBA mortgage applications, Wednesday
- Fed officials John Williams, Tom Barkin speak at events, Wednesday
- US CPI, US initial jobless claims, Thursday
- Fed officials Lorie Logan, Esther George, Loretta Mester speak at events, Thursday
- US University of Michigan consumer sentiment, Friday
Some of the main moves in markets:
- The Stoxx Europe 600 slipped 0.1% as of 8:21 a.m. London time
- Futures on the S&P 500 rose 0.1%
- Futures on the Nasdaq 100 rose 0.4%
- Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were little changed
- The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.3%
- The MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose 0.6%
- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.2%
- The euro was little changed at $1.0084
- The Japanese yen rose 0.3% to 145.30 per dollar
- The offshore yuan fell 0.1% to 7.2407 per dollar
- The British pound rose 0.2% to $1.1564
- Bitcoin fell 3% to $18,140.83
- Ether fell 5% to $1,269.13
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined one basis point to 4.11%
- Germany’s 10-year yield declined five basis points to 2.23%
- Britain’s 10-year yield declined three basis points to 3.52%
- Brent crude fell 0.6% to $94.81 a barrel
- Spot gold rose 0.2% to $1 715.83 an ounce