UPDATED after market close: U.S. stocks opened, traded, then closed, higher Wednesday with tech leading throughout the day after massive gyrations overnight as the U.S. presidential election continue to unfold.
Markets had surged Monday and Tuesday as investors banked on a Joe Biden White House win and possible Democratic Senate swing ushering in a big, fast stimulus package. But with mail-in votes in key states yet to be counted, the country faces a muddy few days ahead. President Donald Trump prematurely declared victory in a predawn speech. Biden said he was on track to win the election. Reports Wednesday morning looked more favorable for Biden in Wisconsin and Michigan — the former was called for Biden late afternoon.
Markets had been exceedingly edgy overnight. DJIA futures had surged 1,000 points before settling. Investors looking for safe havens bought dollars and U.S. Treasuries. The S&P 500 fluctuated 10 times in 12 hours between gains and losses. Stocks are likely to continue volatile with the nation in a state of suspended animation as millions of ballots are counted.
Tech stocks are the clear, big winners. First, a divided government could ease some of the regulatory pressures bearing down on the industry. And a California proposition passed that allows companies to continue classifying workers as independent contractors, not requiring them to be hired as employees — that helped Uber surge 13% and Lyft by nearly 20%.
More traditional “value” stocks — oil, industrials even travel — had waged a comeback recently on the possibility a blue wave in the White House and Senate would bring fast pandemic relief, stimulating the economy. But the likelihood of a Democratic Senate receded, making a divided government the more likely end result. That’s hard to read, more uncertain and had investors piling back into what has been a sure bet for most of the year – tech.
Facebook jumped 8.3%. Google parent Alphabet, Apple, Amazon and Twitter all ended higher, so did Snap, Roku and Spotify.
Media was mixed. Netflix rose 2%, Comcast 2.3%. Disney, Lionsgate and AMC Networks are in positive territory. Charter Communications, which reported strong quarterly numbers late last week, surged more than 7%.
On the downside, shares of Sinclair Broadcast Group fell nearly 8% after reporting a mixed third quarter Wednesday morning with regional sports networks buffeted by COVID-19 headwinds. Other broadcasters like Tegna and Nexstar also dipped.
Shares of DraftKings (up over 5%) and gambling stock firmed after several states approved ballot measures Tuesday that legalize sports betting.