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Election Day, Futures Surge on Sweep Hopes, API Due - What's up in Markets

The U.S. heads to the polls, while speculation on a Blue Sweep and big, quick stimulus package propels stock futures and oil higher. Australia cuts rates and starts quantitative easing, two days ahead of meetings at the Fed and Bank of England. And Jack Dorsey survives as Twitter CEO. Here's what you need to know in financial markets on Tuesday, November 3.

1. Election Day

The U.S. goes to the polls to elect a new president, 35 Senators and 435 Congressmen and -women in the House of Representatives.

Opinion polls still appear to indicate a “Blue Sweep” that would give the left-leaning Democratic Party control of the White House and both chambers of the legislature. However, a repeat of 2016, in which actual voting results defied similar polls, is still easily possible.

Because of the different rules applied by each state as regards the counting and processing of ballots, it is quite possible that the winner of the presidential election will not be known by Wednesday morning – not least since the incumbent has consistently ruled out conceding and has claimed that only electoral fraud can stop him winning. 

However, two key swing states of North Carolina and Florida are likely to report, and their results will give a strong indication of the trend.

2. Australia shows monetary policy isn't dead

The Reserve Bank of Australia reminded world markets that central banks haven’t run out of ammunition quite yet, cutting its key rate to 0.10% from 0.25%. The RBA also announced its first-ever quantitative easing program, with an overall size of A$100 billion.  The decisions were in line with expectation.

After a wild ride, the Aussie is now pretty much where it was at the start of the year against the dollar. By 6:30 AM ET it was at $0.7122, supported by a burst of dollar weakness across the board.

The move came two days before the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of England will announce the results of their latest policy meetings.

3. Stock futures surge on stimulus speculation

U.S. stock markets are set to open sharply higher, supported by expectations of a ‘Blue Sweep’ of Congress that would make it easier for the incoming administration to enact a major economic stimulus package with little delay.

By 6:20 AM ET (1120 GMT), Dow 30 futures were up 394 points, or 1.5%, while S&P 500 futures were up 1.2% and Nasdaq futures were up 0.7%, again underperforming as money rotates out of growth and momentum stocks into the cyclicals that have underperformed so badly this year.

Humana (NYSE:HUM), Exelon (NASDAQ:EXC), McKesson (NYSE:MCK) and Fox (NASDAQ:FOX) all report early, while things are set to quieten down after the close. One stock likely to be in focus is PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL), which cut its revenue forecast after user growth slowed in the third quarter.

4. Dorsey survives activist pressure at Twitter

Another stock likely to come under the spotlight is Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), where CEO and Founder Jack Dorsey survived pressure from activist investor Elliott Management to unseat him.

A committee appointed by the board has recommended to keep the current management in place, the company said in a filing late Monday. Elliott’s representatives supported the recommendation.

The decision comes less than a week after Twitter posted its slowest user growth in years, and on the eve of an event that is likely to lead to fresh scrutiny of its business model by the outside world.

5. Oil rebounds; API due

Oil prices finally found some support after plunging over the last week, as participants shed some of their broader risk aversion and also took comfort from hints that major oil producers are slowly preparing to abandon a scheduled production increase.

Russian oil minister Alexander Novak met with oil company representatives on Monday to discuss the matter, according to Russian news agencies, but there was little detail of the meeting’s outcome.

Elsewhere, Saudi Aramco (SE:2222) reported a profit of $11.8 billion for the third quarter, up 78% from the previous three months but still not enough to cover its dividend.

By 6:30 AM, U.S. crude futures were up 3.5% at $38.08 a barrel, while Brent futures were up 3.2% at $40.22 a barrel. The American Petroleum Institute’s weekly inventories estimate is due at 4:30 PM ET.

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