Stocks logged a seventh consecutive day of losses on Wednesday, as worries over the U.S. presidential election and weaker oil prices shook investor confidence. A Wall Street volatility measure, dubbed the fear gauge, is at its highest since June.
ON WALL STREET: At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 77.5 points, about 0.4 percent, at 17,959.6. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was off 13.8 points, about 0.6 percent, at nearly 2,098. The Nasdaq composite gave up 48 points, about 0.9 percent, to close at 5,105.6.
The last time the S&P 500 fell for seven straight days was November 2011, during a European sovereign debt crisis.
OIL PRICES: As markets closed, the price of U.S. benchmark oil futures had lost $1.22 to $45.45 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, the price of Brent crude, the international standard, was down $1.05 at $47.09 a barrel. The drop in prices helped send energy stocks down more than the rest of the market.
BOND PRICES: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.15 percent to 1.80 percent.
ELECTION WATCH: Like most of the public, investors have their eyes glued to the presidential race, as polls between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have tightened. The narrowing in the race has brought more uncertainty. Gold and bond prices have risen. The VIX, a volatility measure dubbed the fear gauge for Wall Street, hit 19.3 percent Wednesday, its highest level since June.
PESO PREMONITIONS: The Mexican peso, which has become a de facto proxy for Trump’s chances to win the election, has fallen steadily against the U.S. dollar since Friday. Investors expect that Mexico’s economy would be negatively impacted by a Trump administration, which would weaken the peso.
ANALYST’S OPINION: “The lead-up to the U.S. presidential election was always expected to be lively but the events of the last couple of days has seriously taken its toll on investor sentiment,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.
FED WATCH: The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged Wednesday, six days before Americans choose a new president, but hinted that it would raise rates soon, possibly in December. The Fed said the case for a rate hike has “continued to strengthen” as the job market and economy have improved. And it observed for the first time that inflation has risen since earlier this year, closer to its target rate, and that it no longer thinks inflation will stay low over the next couple of years.