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U.S. stocks fall as investors cautiously watch campaigns

Specialist Thomas McArdle, left, works on the floor

Specialist Thomas McArdle, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016. Credit: AP / Richard Drew

Stocks fell modestly in afternoon trading Thursday, after struggling all day to break a seven-day losing streak. Investors’ enthusiasm was checked as they remain transfixed on the outcome of next week’s U.S. presidential election.

ON WALL STREET: At the close, The Dow Jones industrial average was down nearly 29 points, about 0.2 percent, at 17,930.7. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 9.3 points, about 0.4 percent, to 2,088.7. The Nasdaq composite slipped 47.2 points, about 1 percent, to 5,058.4.

BOND PRICES: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.82 percent from 1.80 percent a day earlier.

OIL PRICES: As markets closed, the price of U.S. benchmark oil was down 68 cents at $44.66 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The prices of domestic and international oil have been sinking since a report Wednesday from the Energy Department showed a sharp buildup in crude oil supplies last week. In London, the price of Brent crude, the international standard, was down 48 cents at $46.38 a barrel.

ELECTION JITTERS: With five days left until the election, Hillary Clinton maintains a lead in polling in the U.S. presidential race but Donald Trump has narrowed the gap. Investors generally favor a Clinton victory as she is seen as maintaining the status quo. Trump’s policies are less clear, and the uncertainty has caused jitters in financial markets.

“It’s a pretty simple equation: uncertainty goes up, stock market goes down,” said analyst David Kelly, chief global strategist with JPMorgan Funds.

The Mexican peso, which has become Wall Street’s proxy for Trump’s chances at the White House, advanced 1 percent against the dollar on Thursday. Investors have speculated that a Trump administration would be negative for the Mexican economy, and would cause the Mexican peso’s value to fall as a result.

Kelly said that Clinton is being considered a continuation of the Obama administration, which is mostly priced into the market, whereas Trump would represent a significant departure from current policies and would introduce a great deal more uncertainty into the economy. He expects the stock market to sell off after a Trump victory.

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