US stocks edge lower as investors weigh a Biden victory and a strong October jobs report

Getty Images / Drew Angerer
  • US stocks edged lower on Friday as investors mulled former Vice President Joe Biden’s election victory, better-than-expected economic data, and the market’s dwindling momentum.
  • Biden is projected to be the country’s next president after taking the lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia Friday morning, according to Decision Desk HQ.
  • On the economic data front, the US added 638,000 jobs in October, handily beating the 580,000 estimate from economists. The unemployment rate fell to 6.9% from 7.9%.
  • Still, investors weighed whether to secure profits or see if the market’s rally could continue for a fifth day.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US equities edged lower on Friday as investors digested former Vice President Joe Biden’s election victory, the market’s weakening upward momentum, and a better-than-expected payrolls report.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is projected to be the US’s next president after taking the lead in Georgia and Pennsylvania on Friday, according to data from Decision Desk HQ. The advances in states President Donald Trump had been winning place Biden’s electoral-vote total above the 270 needed to be named president-elect.

The presidential election’s conclusion comes after more than two full days of ballot counting and anticipation across the country. Republicans are still favoured to maintain control of the Senate and form a divided-government scenario investors have warmed up to throughout the week.

Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET market open on Friday:

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Traders unwound bets on election outcomes as major stock indexes closed in on posting their best weekly gains since April. Tech giants sank after leading the market higher through the week.

Premarket stock futures trimmed early losses after the government’s monthly nonfarm payrolls report showed a stronger labour-market performance than expected. The US economy added 638,000 jobs in October, more than the 580,000 additions expected by economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The improvement is still smaller than the 672,000 job additions seen in September.

The unemployment rate fell to 6.9% last month from 7.9%, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ report. Economists expected the rate to hit 7.6%.

The report marks the sixth straight month of job additions since the coronavirus drove outsized losses in April. While the pace of recovery has weakened from its initial rebound, Friday’s reading suggests the economy is healing faster than anticipated despite a lack of fresh fiscal support.

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“This loss of momentum is set to continue, and we do not anticipate payroll employment returning to its pre-COVID level before the end of next year,” Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors, said.

Soaring virus cases in the US threaten to further curb the bounce-back. The country reported more than 121,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, becoming the first nation to report a single-day increase of more than 100,000. With advanced economies around the world reinstating lockdown measures as their own case counts surge, a similar action in the US can freeze hiring activity.

Peloton tumbled after supply constraints revealed in its quarterly report overshadowed Wall Street upgrades and strong earnings. The stock is among the market’s biggest winners in recent months, but a product shortage ahead of the critical holiday season could slam revenue goals.

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Bitcoin traded above $US15,500 as its rally extended into Friday trading. The token sat as low as $US13,270 earlier in the week but surged in recent sessions amid election volatility and strong momentum.

Spot gold swung as much as 0.5% higher, to $US1,960.38 per ounce, as its own rally continued. The US dollar dipped to a two-year low against currency peers and Treasury yields gained.

Oil prices tumbled amid concerns a virus resurgence will slam demand. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 3.8%, to $US37.33 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, sank 3.4%, to $US39.55 per barrel, at intraday lows.

Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

The chief strategist at JPMorgan’s $US2.3 trillion investing arm says the US elections could resolve a ‘polarised’ stock market amid sharp political divisions — and pinpoints 4 trades that are likely to benefit

Tech stocks are primed to surge another 15% as election results seem likely to ease regulation risk, Wedbush says

Why the stock market is loving the prospect of a divided government

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