U.S. stock futures fell slightly on Thursday evening as Wall Street eyed its best week since April even as the results of the presidential election remained unclear.
Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost about 80 points, while those for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 were down roughly 0.3% and 0.2%, respectively.
The three indexes notched their fourth-straight positive session on Thursday and were on track for their best week since April 9. The S&P 500 and the Dow are up 7% so far this week. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite has led the way with a nearly 9% gain. The sharp rally follows a slump in the prior week.
The surge in stocks has come despite lingering uncertainty about the outcome of Tuesday's election. Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads with 253 electoral votes, according to NBC News projections, while President Donald Trump has 214. Votes are still being counted in several key states including Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Victories by Republicans in several key Senate races, thus lowering the odds of a "blue wave" and potential higher taxes and stronger regulations, have been cited by Wall Street strategists as a reason for the rally in tech stocks. However, the Republicans have not yet won the necessary seats to control the Senate, according to NBC News projections, with two potential run-off elections in Georgia.
Alicia Levine, chief strategist at BNY Mellon Investment Management, said that the possibility of Democrats winning narrow control of the Senate was one of the major risks not priced into the market even if the runoffs wouldn't necessarily cause the markets to dip.
"The market is now pricing in a Biden presidency with a Republican Senate, and the rotation that we saw was based on that," Levine said. "And if there's an increasing risk that that's not the case for the Senate, then this entire move could also be somewhat at risk as well."
Levine also said that the strength of tech stocks was due in part to their strong earnings performance and resiliency in the case of new economic restrictions in the United States during the winter to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Republicans have filed a flurry of legal challenges in several states related to the ongoing vote counts, and the Trump campaign said it will request a recount in Wisconsin.
In an announcement from the White House on Thursday night, Trump falsely claimed victory in several states and made accusations of voter fraud without evidence, saying "there's a tremendous amount of litigation generally because of how unfair this process was."
The Biden campaign, meanwhile, has called for all votes to be counted.
"Democracy's sometimes messy. It sometimes requires a little patience as well," the former vice president in a short speech in Delaware on Thursday, adding that he was confident his ticket would be declared the winner once all the votes are counted.
On the economic front, Friday will bring a fresh look at the labor market for investors, with the Labor Department's October jobs reported scheduled to be released before the bell. The report comes on the heels of disappoint readings for ADP private payrolls and initial jobless claims.
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