A winning streak for global markets took a pause as investors appeared wary of holding assets considered riskier ahead of the weekend, given the still-undecided U.S. election and continued pandemic concerns.
Following the fourth-straight daily gain for Wall Street, major U.S. indexes were headed for the best weekly returns since April, with the S&P 500 up more than 7% as of Thursday. But in early trading, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average industrials were 0.9% lower, the S&P was off by around 1% and Nasdaq Composite futures were down 1.2%.
The U.S. presidential race remained front and center in investors’ minds, but employment—and the state of the economy in general—are a key concern, too. Figures released early Friday showed 638,000 jobs were created in the U.S. in October, compared with the 530,000 a MarketWatch survey indicated were expected. Importantly, the figures showed an influx of jobs in the private sector, where 906,000 jobs were added, offsetting a loss of 268,000 government jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 6.9%.
Democratic challenger Joe Biden appeared to be moving closer to winning the White House over incumbent President Donald Trump, whose campaign has launched legal challenges to voting results for several states.
Early Friday, Biden pulled ahead of Trump in Georgia, according to the state’s tally. The result could still go either way. The former Vice President needs to win in just one of four swing states yet to be called—Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania—while Trump must win in all four.
Trump repeated claims of election fraud, without evidence, up, in a news conference late Thursday. Given those claims and threats of legal action, “markets are understandably more anxious than they have been since the early moments of Wednesday morning,” said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at SpreadEx, in a note to clients.
Meanwhile, the U.S. was the first country to report more than 100,000 coronavirus cases a day on Wednesday, a grim record that repeated on Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That’s as Europe also battles rising infections, with many new measures, including lockdowns and curfews across several countries.
Among companies, shares of Peloton tumbled in premarket trading as a pandemic surge in business for the connected exercise-equipment company continued, but the group admitted to worsening supply issues.