Wall Street wary after Obama victory
Stock futures drop after the president wins a second term. The next big question: Can Congress avoid the fiscal cliff?
When it became clear late Tuesday that President Barack Obama had won the the 2012 election over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Democrats were ecstatic. Republicans were depressed.
The stock market looked like it would follow the Republicans' lead and open lower.
Futures trading at 5:10 a.m ET Wednesday suggested the Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) will open down more than 100 points.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) is looking at an 11-point loss at the open, and the Nasdaq-100 Index ($NDX) is looking at a 22-point hit.
European stock futures trading suggested a higher open as well, and Asian stocks were mostly higher, especially in Hong Kong and India.
What tipped the election in Obama's favor was winning the key battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Florida may yet move to the Obama column. Ohio gave him more than the 270 electoral votes needed to win.
While stocks look to open lower, gold (-GC) was moving higher, a suggestion that Wall Street will continue to be wary of the president. Light sweet crude oil (-CL) was lower.
Wall Street's big bet on Romney comes up short
Wall Street invested millions in Romney's candidacy in large part because Obama has antagonized the financial community with calls to raise taxes on the wealthy as part of any deficit reduction package.
An Obama win probably means a bitter battle into next year over the fiscal cliff -- a witch's brew of tax increases and government spending cuts that are set to take effect Jan. 1 unless Congress acts. Many economists believe a stalemate could plunge the nation back into recession.
In addition to the Obama victory, Democrats will maintain control of the U.S. Senate. That means the agenda of the conservative House of Representatives has a much harder path to realize its policy hopes of big tax and spending cuts.
A sign of an economy on the mend?
While the fiscal cliff is gong to be front and center, there is some recent good news for those who worry the economy is falling apart.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday night that Americans are setting up house at the fastest rate in more than six years. That's an indication that recession anxiety, which prompted adult children to move in with their parents and single people to postpone marriage, is starting to ease.
The nation added 1.15 million households in the 12 months that ended in September, according to the most recent Census Bureau data. That's a significant rise from the past four years when an average of 650,000 households were formed annually.
Rising household formation means more students are finding jobs after college, more adult children are leaving their parents' homes and more couples feel confident enough about the future to marry. It could also mean that immigration is picking up.
That's the good news that Obama phases as he prepares for a second term. So is a housing recovery and an automotive rebound.
What's not good is a 7.9% unemployment rate and the coming battle over taxes and spending and the fiscal cliff.
The markets had a good day
Before the returns started to come in, stocks had a very good day. The Dow was up 133 points to 13,246. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) gained 11 points to 1,428, and the Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) added 12 points to 3,012.
The rally was fueled by gains in energy, industrial and financial stocks. Crude oil moved higher because of fears that another big storm about to hit the East Coast would disrupt efforts to get gasoline out to service stations and take out power lines again.
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All hail the bull market, which ended the week with a big rally. But it also is starting to look a little like 1987, which suffered an epic blow-out.
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