US futures, Asia markets rise as investors eye US election

FILE - Pedestrians pass the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, in New York.   Stocks are opening broadly higher on Wall Street, following global markets higher on Election Day in the U.S. The S&P 500 rose 1% in the early going Tuesday, Nov. 3. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
FILE - Pedestrians pass the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, in New York. Stocks are opening broadly higher on Wall Street, following global markets higher on Election Day in the U.S. The S&P 500 rose 1% in the early going Tuesday, Nov. 3. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

BEIJING – U.S. futures rose and Asia markets posted gains as investors worldwide await the results from the U.S. presidential election.

Just after 10 p.m. Eastern time, President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were locked in tight races in battleground states. Most polls have predicted a Biden victory.

Dow futures were up 0.6% and the S&P 500 futures rose 1.6% as of 10:25 p.m. Eastern time after falling earlier as election returns began coming in. The Nasdaq futures were up 3.5%. The gain in the futures follow a strong performance in regular trading on Wall Street.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo was up 330 points, or 1.4%, to 23,626 in midday trading Wednesday, while the Kospi in Seoul was up 20 points, or 0.9%, to 2,360. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong was flat at 24,937, while the Shanghai Composite Index rose 3 points, or 0.1%, to 3,274.

Investors hope the end of a bruising U.S. presidential campaign may soon lift the heavy uncertainty that’s sent markets spinning recently. So far, Trump and Biden have won the states they’re expected to win and no battleground states have been decided, though the early returns in Florida point to a tight race in that key state.

Markets around the world were rattled in 2016 as results in the presidential election suggested Donald Trump was running ahead of Hillary Clinton. The S&P 500 slumped early the following day, but ended 1.1% higher.

The result of the presidential election might not be known for days because of the large number of Americans who voted early. More than anything, what investors hope for from the election is a clear winner to emerge, even if it takes some time. Whether that’s Trump or Biden is less important, because history shows stocks tend to rise regardless of which party controls the White House.

What investors fear is the prospect of a contested election, one that drags on and injects even more uncertainty into markets. Under such a scenario, much of Wall Street expects a sharp drop in stocks. The future political makeup of the Senate is another unknown throwing uncertainty into the markets, along with the timing of a possible COVID-19 vaccine.