Stocks struggle again as investors eye 2016 election

Fred DeMarco, center, works with fellow traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016. Stocks are opening modestly lower on Wall Street as the market extends a pre-election losing streak. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks were on pace for a seventh consecutive day of losses on Wednesday, as worries over the U.S. presidential election and weaker oil prices shook investor confidence. Several companies fell after posting disappointing results.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 22 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,015 as of 12:10 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 6 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,105 and the Nasdaq composite fell 18 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,134.

The last time the S&P 500 fell for seven straight days was November 2011, during a flare-up of the European sovereign debt crisis.

ELECTION WATCH: Like most of the public, investors have their eyes glued to the presidential race, as polls between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have tightened. The narrowing in the race has brought more uncertainty. Gold and bond prices have risen. The VIX, a volatility measure dubbed the “fear gauge” for Wall Street, jumped 14 percent on Tuesday to its highest level since June. It was up another 3 percent Wednesday.

The Mexican peso, which has become a de facto proxy for Trump’s chances to win the election, has fallen steadily against the U.S. dollar since Friday. Investors expect that Mexico’s economy would be negatively impacted by a Trump administration, which would weaken the peso.

QUOTABLE: “The lead-up to the U.S. presidential election was always expected to be lively but the events of the last couple of days has seriously taken its toll on investor sentiment,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

FED WATCH: Aside from the election cliffhanger, the Federal Reserve will wrap up a two-day meeting on Wednesday, announcing their decision at 2 p.m. ET. With the election just six days away, the Fed will likely keep a low profile to try to ensure it doesn’t become part of the debate at the close of a tumultuous political campaign. As a result, it’s expected to keep interest rates unchanged, though it may signal in its policy statement that a rate hike is likely at the next meeting in mid-December, as many expect.

“However, if we get an unexpected election outcome, the Fed might put any increase on hold. We are not convinced that December is a sure thing,” said Brandon Swensen, a portfolio manager and co-head of fixed income trading at RBC Global Asset Management.

LET’S PLAY: Video game publisher Electronic Arts jumped $3.47, or 4.5 percent, to $81.31 after the company’s quarterly results beat analysts’ expectations.

MORE MERGERS: Brocade Communications rose $1.14, or 10 percent, to $12.38 after Broadcom announced it would buy the company for $5.5 billion. Broadcom rose $2.86, or 1.7 percent, to $171.66.

ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude oil sank $1.42 to $45.26 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, was down $1.41 at $46.63 a barrel. That helped send energy stocks down more than the rest of the market. Chevron dropped $1.36, or 1.3 percent, to $105.11, the biggest loss in the Dow Jones industrial average.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 103.19 yen from 103.97 yen, while the euro rose to $1.1122 from $1.1062. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.79 percent from 1.83 percent the day before.

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