Wall St. opens flat as investors await election

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., November 3, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Tanya Agrawal

Wall Street was little changed at the open on Friday as uncertainty about the outcome of the U.S. presidential election continued to weigh on investors’ minds and data showing a strong pace of hiring in October had little impact on the market.

Investors have been unnerved by signs the U.S. presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump is tightening, after Clinton had until recently been thought to have a clear lead.

The latest Reuters/Ipsos polling showed Clinton, seen as the status quo candidate by markets, maintaining a narrow lead over Trump.

However, several swing states that the Republican challenger must win have shifted from favoring Clinton to toss-ups, offering Trump a possible route to victory.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 161,000 jobs last month, below the 175,000 additions expected by economists polled by Reuters.

Unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent from 5.0 percent and average hourly earnings increased 0.4 percent in October after advancing 0.3 percent in September.

“It’s a good employment report on balance. The number was very close to the consensus that helped the market not react too much,” said Aaron Kohli, interest rate strategist at BMO Capital Markets in New York.

“The big deciding factor will be whatever uncertainty there is around the election and what impact that has on the financial markets.”

Though the U.S. central bank is expected to increase borrowing costs next month, that decision will likely depend on the outcome of Tuesday’s election.

Traders are pricing in a 76.3 percent chance for a December rate hike, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

The CBOE Volatility Index .VIX, a gauge of near-term investor anxiety, fell 1.2 percent but remained above its long-term average of 20. It had climbed to its highest level in more than four months on Thursday.

The S&P 500 fell for an eighth straight session on Thursday, its longest losing streak since the 2008 financial crisis.

At 9:40 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 8.28 points, or 0.05 percent, at 17,922.39.

The S&P 500 .SPX was up 1.73 points, or 0.08 percent, at 2,090.39.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 3.36 points, or 0.07 percent, at 5,061.77.

Six of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, with the healthcare index’s .SPXHC 1.06 percent rise leading the gainers.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN.O) rose 1.2 percent to $340.0 after its quarterly profit handsomely beat Wall Street estimates.

Starbucks (SBUX.O) shares were up 1.4 percent at $52.50, a day after the company reported better-than-expected quarterly results.

GoPro (GPRO.O) slumped 16.2 percent to $10.01 after the wearable camera maker’s forecast for the key holiday quarter missed analysts’ estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,354 to 1,220. On the Nasdaq, 1,306 issues rose and 847 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed one new 52-week high and seven new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 11 new highs and 71 new lows.

(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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