Markets whipsaw as early US election results comes in - live updates

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James Titcomb
·9 min read
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Trump Biden
Trump Biden
US 2020 election
US 2020 election


05:32 AM

Asian markets update

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 is up around 2pc, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng and the Shanghai Composite is trading roughly flat.

Investors have taken something of a pause in trading: no clearer picture has emerged in the last couple of hours, with the election still apparently on a knife edge.

04:34 AM

Uber on the ballot in California

Away from the markets, today's election also sees a potentially defining vote for Uber in California. Voters have been deciding on Proposition 22, a ballot measure that would exempt drivers for ride-hailing and delivery apps from a gig economy law that would treat drivers as employees.

Uber, Lyft and delivery app DoorDash have been putting more than $200m into supporting the measure. Defeat would be a major blow, potentially seeing the apps cut their operations in the state, and meaning tougher gig economy crackdowns across the US.

It is early days, but Proposition 22 is leading in initial results, with 59.8pc of votes.

Protests against Uber and Lyft last year - Bloomberg
Protests against Uber and Lyft last year - Bloomberg


03:58 AM

Volatile trading as investors unwind Biden bets

In the run up to Tuesday's election, the smart money had been on a Biden victory and a Democrat majority in the Senate. With that very much in the air, market activity is now as much about unwinding those trades as much as investors laying bets on a Trump victory.

As well as US bond yields dropping, stock futures are rising - partly because a lower chance of a Biden victory means a lower chance of America's biggest companies such as Google and Facebook being broken up.

Here's the state of US futures:

  • S&P: +1.73pc

  • Nasdaq: +3.54pc

  • Dow: +0.8pc

03:01 AM

US treasuries drop as Trump picks up pace

US bond yields have dropped as traders anticipate a much closer race than they had just a couple of hours ago.

Lower yields can be read as a sign that the picture is shifting towards Donald Trump: a Biden presidency was expected to mean more spending, and thus more borrowing.

A clean Democrat sweep also increased the likelihood of a big stimulus to counter the economic downturn caused by coronavirus.

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02:18 AM


I'm handing over to my colleague James Titcomb, who is on the ground in San Francisco. Stay tuned for updates as the results roll in. Thanks for joining!

02:13 AM

A quick tally

Donald Trump has won: Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana.

Joe Biden has won: Vermont, New York, Delaware, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois, Delaware, Virginia, New Mexico and Connecticut.


01:58 AM

Rush to close deals before election

Companies announced a record $143.1bn of mergers and acquisitions globally in the past seven days, rushing to complete transactions before this contentious election, reported Bloomberg.

This is the highest for any week before a US presidential vote since Bloomberg started collecting data. It is more than double the tally before the 2016 election.

The news service says:

The flurry of deals has been across industries. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. announced a $35 billion takeover of Xilinx Inc., helping make this year one of the busiest ever for semiconductor transactions. Then Inspire Brands Inc., the owner of Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, sealed an $11.3 billion purchase of Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. that will turn it into a fast-food giant.

01:53 AM

US futures swing negative

S&P 500 futures have dipped into negative territory, reversing an earlier climb of 1pc.

Investors confidence over an early election decision and a Democratic victory - which had boosted markets - has waned. 

Mr Trump's performance in the polls is exceeding expectations, particularly during early counting in the bellwether state of Florida.



01:34 AM

China opens up, Hong Kong down

Mainland China and Hong Kong shares seemed to lack direction on Wednesday open.

The Shanghai Composite opened by edging up just 0.07pc to 3,273.43, while the CSI 300 of large caps added 0.08pc to 4,781.45.

Across the border in Hong Kong, however, the Hang Seng dropped 0.8pc to 24,743.35.

Alibaba dragged Hong Kong, plunging nearly 10 percent after the debut of its financial unit Ant Group was suspended on Tuesday.

01:24 AM

Hong Kong futures pointing down

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index (HSI) futures aren't looking as rosy as the majority of Asia's positive start to the day.

By 9:20am Hong Kong time, 10 minutes before open, futures are down 1pc to 24,777.

So far in Asia:

01:18 AM

Live map - every state, every vote

Follow updates of the latest projections with our cracking map: 

Geographical US election map
Geographical US election map


01:06 AM

Social media on disinformation alert as votes roll in

As all eyes are on Florida, the largest battleground state in terms of population, which could provide an early signal of where results are headed tonight. It has a reputation for being a bellwether: the Sunshine state's winner has become president in 13 of the last 14 elections. 

But no matter the result in Florida and elsewhere, Facebook and Twitter have vowed to stop candidates prematurely declaring victory. 

The social media companies said they would apply warning labels to posts or tweets affirming that a presidential nominee has won in individual states or the overall election, reports James Titcomb.

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12:48 AM

Tokyo opens higher

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index opened over 2pc higher on Wednesday, tracking global market rises as polls begin to close.

Japan's benchmark was up 2pc at 23,763.75 in early trade.

Mr Trump has won West Virginia as well as Kentucky, a solidly conservative state, in the first 2020 election results. He won by a huge margin of 29.8 points four years ago, in one of his strongest performances of the night.

Meanwhile Joe Biden has won Vermont and Virginia.

12:41 AM

US futures look set to rally again on Wednesday

US equity futures pointed to further gains after the biggest two-day rally since September, as investors speculated America would get a clear election decision and a spending bill would be delivered this year. 

December contracts on the S&P 500 added 0.7pc as of 7:25pm in New York, according to Bloomberg. It jumped 3pc in the past two days. 

Polls have started closing on much of America's East Coast, including in some key battle grounds like Georgia. Florida and Pennsylvania are still accepting votes.

Final polls taken before voting began Tuesday showed Democratic candidate Joe Biden with a solid lead over the incumbent Donald Trump, making some investors speculate there'll be a quick decision over who will win. This stemmed to remove major uncertainty. 

12:28 AM

Stock markets bullish on Tuesday

Europe’s main bourses all rose for a second consecutive day ahead of polls closing on Tuesday, led by the Milan exchange in Italy and followed closely by Frankfurt, Madrid, Paris and London.

The continent trailed Asia Pacific which saw a sea of green across all of the main bourses. China’s Shanghai Composite and Tokyo’s Nikkei both boosted 1.4pc, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 2pc.

America's markets were also positive despite the election being one of the most controversial in decades. 


12:27 AM

Polls start to close. Here we go...

Good evening. Strap in for what will hopefully be an exciting evening of watching the US presidential election unfold, as the polls start to close.

Global stock markets rallied on Tuesday, in anticipation of a win by Joe Biden. Traders are expecting the Democratic candidate to fulfil his promise on post-election economic stimulus, if victorious.

5 things to start your evening of election watching

1)  Share prices on the up as traders anticipate undisputed Biden win: Global stock markets collectively ­rallied on Tuesday, as investors bet on an uncontested Democratic victory in the US presidential election.

2) Five charts that show whether Trump created the ‘greatest economy ever’: The incumbent US President is promising a strong post-Covid recovery but his economic record is patchy after the first term

3)  Facebook and Twitter on alert to stop US election candidates claiming premature victory: Companies will apply warning labels to posts declaring victory before official declarations are in amid fears of drawn out counting

4) Biggest threat to the US economy is a disputed result: Donald Trump has threatened to contest the results of the election in the case of a narrow defeat, putting Wall Street on high alert

5) Tech titans want Trump dilemma to disappear: The US President may have increased their profits, but if he wins re-election tomorrow, their companies may be torn apart, writes James Titcomb.


Coming up today

Corporate: M&S, Stobart Group (Interim results); Morgan Sindall, Provident Financial, Smurfit Kappa (Trading statements)

Economics: Composite and services PMI final reading (UK, China, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, EZ, US); ADP employment change, trade balance (US)