U.S. stock futures were volatile overnight and early Wednesday morning with the presidential election still unsettled and vote-counting in crucial swing states Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that could take days. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 were set to open higher. The Nasdaq was also set to rise at the open as investors piled into tech stocks, a strategy that's been working during a tumultuous year marked by coronavirus economic uncertainty and political rancor. Wall Street logged a strong two-day rally heading into election night, with stocks closing up around 2% on Tuesday, putting a dent in last week's worst declines since March.
The ADP's October look at employment trends at U.S. companies on Wednesday morning showed much lower than expected job growth of 365,000 positions. Economists had expected 600,000 additions last month after 753,000 new jobs were created in September.
The Federal Reserve's policymaking committee begins its two-day November meeting Wednesday, with a statement on interest rates and a Fed Chairman Jerome Powell news conference on Thursday afternoon. The central bank has already put in place near zero percent rates and other extraordinary measures to support the economy during the Covid-19 crisis.
President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden both spoke in the early hours of Wednesday, striking very different tones. Biden first urged patience, saying, "it's not over until every vote is counted." Trump then claimed victory even though millions of legitimate votes had yet to be counted and races in more than a half dozen swing states still too close to call. Trump called the election a "fraud on the American public." He said he'll be going to the Supreme Court: "We want all voting to stop." Biden's campaign manager subsequently criticized Trump's comments, but vowed to be ready to counter any legal action. Both Trump and Biden have paths to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. The current count, according to NBC News projections, stands at 224 for Biden and 213 for Trump. Florida and Texas, key battleground states that Trump won in 2016, went the president's way overnight.
NBC News projects that the House of Representatives will remain in Democratic control. However, the chances of Democrats flipping the GOP majority in the Senate was narrowing Wednesday morning. Democrats got an early pickup, with John Hickenlooper projected to defeat Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in Colorado. But offsetting that gain, Republican Tommy Tuberville is projected to defeat Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in Alabama. In Arizona, Democratic challenger Mark Kelly leads Republican Sen. Martha McSally, who was appointed after John McCain's death. But NBC News sees that Arizona race and others as too early to call. Key Republicans in leadership, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, are projected to be reelected.
Shares of Uber and Lyft were surging Wednesday morning after NBC News projected the two companies would prevail on California's Proposition 22, a ballot measure to exempt drivers for app-based transportation and delivery companies from being classified as employees under the state's new labor law. Uber and Lyft had warned that they likely would have had to pass on increased costs of worker reclassification to consumers. Uber had estimated in a blog post earlier this year rider price-hikes of 25% to 111% in parts of California to cover the costs. Uber shares soared over 13% in Wednesday's premarket. Lyft shares jumped more than 15%.
In a presidential race that Biden made about what he described as Trump's inability to control the pandemic, 21 states, including the battleground states of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, hit records Monday in the number of average daily new coronavirus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Some states, such as Ohio, have also hit new peaks in hospitalizations. On Tuesday, the U.S. saw over 91,500 new Covid-19 infections, near Friday's worst-ever daily case tally of 99,321 after somewhat better numbers over the weekend and Monday. Trump, at election eve rallies on Monday, repeated a claim disputed by experts that the rise in coronavirus cases was the result of increased testing.