On Friday Wall Street stocks opened lower after four straight up days as Democrat Joe Biden edged closer to victory in the 2020 US presidential election, taking leads in key states.
US media reported that Biden had moved ahead of President Donald Trump by more than 5,500 votes in Pennsylvania after earlier edging ahead in Georgia. A victory in Pennsylvania would give Biden the presidency based on the Electoral College tally.
The shifts in the presidential election overshadowed a better-than-expected US jobs report and worries about spiking coronavirus cases in the United States. About 10 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 28,235.80, down 0.5 percent. The broad-based S&P 500 also dropped 0.5 percent to 3,483.10, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.7 percent to 11,803.38.
As vote counts edged towards Biden, Trump has dug in with a trove of unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and numerous lawsuits. Still, markets appeared unperturbed by the chance of a contested result, with the closely-watched CBOE volatility index continuing to fall.
The US unemployment rate declined a full point to 6.9 percent in October, the Labor Department said, a greater-than-expected fall. And the economy regained 638,000 jobs last month, far more than analysts had been expecting, despite rising coronavirus cases and Congress’s failure to pass another spending package to aid the economy’s recovery.
The US recorded the third day in a row with Covid-19 deaths above 1,000, while more than 120,000 infections were reported — smashing a daily record set the day before, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins.