Stocks slip on U.S. election nerves; pound up on Brexit ruling

November 2, 2016 7:26 PM EDT

A passerby looks at a panel displaying the falling Hang Seng Index in response to British exit from the European Union, in Hong Kong, China June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip


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By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global equity prices drifted lower on Thursday as worries about the U.S. presidential election continued to weigh on investor sentiment, while sterling rose after a UK court ruled that the British government needed Parliament's approval to trigger Brexit.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury prices slipped after the Bank of England indicated that inflation is likely to rise further, and oil prices remained weak on skepticism about OPEC's planned production limit.

MSCI's 47-country "All World" index <.MIWD00000PUS> fell 0.37 percent, dragged down by weakness on Wall Street.

The S&P 500 <.SPX> fell for an eighth straight session, its longest losing streak since the 2008 financial crisis, as Facebook shares weighed and investors grappled with uncertainty over next week's U.S. election.

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) shares fell as much as 6 percent, a day after the social media giant warned that revenue growth would slow this quarter.

"The polls have tightened and now the concern is more about what might a Trump presidency look like and the market hasn't quite priced that in," said Ernie Cecilia, chief investment officer of Bryn Mawr Trust in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

"Given the fact that the election is five days away, that's what's driving near-term behavior right now."

Investors have been unnerved in recent days by signs that the U.S. presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump was tightening just days before Tuesday's vote.

The CBOE Volatility Index <.VIX>, a gauge of near-term investor anxiety, rose 14 percent to its highest level since late June.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 28.97 points, or 0.16 percent, to close at 17,930.67, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 9.28 points, or 0.44 percent, to finish at 2,088.66 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 47.16 points, or 0.92 percent, to end at 5,058.41.

The pan-European STOXX 600 <.STOXX> ended flat, giving up early gains as a strengthened pound weighed on the shares of internationally exposed companies, including Diageo (AMEX: DGE).

Sterling surged to a four-week high after the UK court ruling soothed concerns about Brexit and the Bank of England scrapped plans to cut interest rates. It climbed as much as 1.5 percent to hit $1.2494 , its strongest since Oct. 7.

Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar hovered near multi-week lows against a basket of major currencies, ending a morning reprieve in which the greenback stabilized, on uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. The dollar index <.DXY> was down 0.25 percent to 97.156.

"We're now seeing markets price in a higher risk of a Trump presidency," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington. "Most polls are still showing that it’s far too close to call, and that's ultimately what is keeping investors nervous."

In bond markets, longer-dated U.S. Treasury prices fell after the Bank of England indicated that inflation is likely to rise further, while uncertainty over the U.S. election propped up shorter-dated debt.

The BoE ramped up its forecasts for growth and predicted that inflation would jump to 2.7 percent this time next year, nearly triple its current level. [nL8N1D45PY]

Benchmark 10-year notes ended down 5/32 in price to yield 1.82 percent, up from 1.80 percent late on Wednesday.

Oil prices extended their recent slide as investors reacted to a record weekly surge in U.S. crude inventories and remained skeptical about whether the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries can actually implement its planned output cap.

Brent crude settled down 51 cents, or 1.09 percent, at $46.35 a barrel, and U.S. crude settled down 68 cents, or 1.50 percent, at $44.66.

Gold edged higher in response to the lower dollar and uncertainty about the outcome of the U.S. presidential race.

Spot gold prices were up 0.49 percent to $1,303.26.

(Additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf and Sam Forgione in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Dan Grebler)



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