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Market News The close: Wall Street ends higher ahead of U.S. election results

Wall Street’s major indexes closed higher on Tuesday as voters went to the polls in U.S. midterm Congressional elections and investors hoped the outcome would provide some relief for stocks after prolonged uncertainty..

Financial markets were bracing for President Donald Trump’s Republican party losing control of the House of Representatives, while retaining the Senate.

Gridlock between the White House and Congress could hinder Trump’s pro-business agenda and raise concerns about political instability, but most analysts say this may not be the worst outcome for the stock market.

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“The market backed off a little bit. It may be some concern as to the extent in which the Democrats take the House: how many seats versus what the expectation is,” said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O’Neil Securities in New York. “It’s a little bit of the market trying to hedge itself. Surprises, as we know, can always happen.”

Based on the latest available data, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 175.41 points, or 0.69 per cent, to 25,637.11, the S&P 500 gained 17.19 points, or 0.63 per cent, to 2,755.5, and the Nasdaq Composite added 47.11 points, or 0.64 per cent, to 7,375.96.

Some investors have said there could be a sharp selloff if the Democrats gain control of both the House and the Senate. In contrast, stocks may rally on hopes of more tax cuts if Republicans retain control of the House.

“The market’s wanting the election to be done so investors can assess the implications. We’re still within the rebound after the October decline. I don’t know if we’re out of the woods yet,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

Canada’s main stock index rose on Tuesday, driven by gains in shares of healthcare and material companies.

Better results announced by drugmaker Bausch Health Companies Inc. lifted healthcare stocks, while materials companies rose on the back of higher metal and gold prices.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX Composite index was up 75.01 points, or 0.49 per cent, at 15,292.71.

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The healthcare sector rose nearly 4 per cent, helped by a 5.2-per-cent rise in Bausch Health, after the company topped revenue expectations.

Marijuana producers also jumped, led by a 6.9-per-cent increase in Canopy Growth Corp. Aphria Inc. and Aurora Cannabis Inc. were up 4.6 per cent and 1.7 per cent, respectively.

Gold prices rose after investors sought shelter from uncertainty over the outcome of the U.S. midterm elections, helping the materials sector, which include precious and base metals miners, added 0.4 per cent.

Also helping materials stocks were shares of fertilizer and farm supplies dealer Nutrien Ltd, which rose 4.5 per cent, after reporting quarterly profit beat and raising its full-year earnings target, driven by strong demand for its potash fertilizers.

Leading the index were Great Canadian Gaming Corp, up 17.3 per cent after its quarterly results, and AltaGas Ltd, higher by 6.7 per cent.

Lagging shares were Element Fleet Management Corp, down 7.9 per cent, Alaris Royalty Corp, down 6.8 per cent and Maxar Technologies Ltd, lower by 6.5 per cent.

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Investors also looked at data from Statistics Canada, which showed the value of Canadian building permits increased by 0.4 per cent in September from August.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.12 per cent.

European shares slipped on disappointing corporate earnings and caution ahead of the U.S. election results. Politics weighed on Italian stocks, and oil prices fell as investors digested exemptions to the newly restored U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.26 per cent.

“With the Democrats favorites to take control of the House and the Republicans the Senate, the next couple of years may be far more difficult for Trump,” said Craig Erlam, a senior market analyst at Oanda in London. “When you consider how markets have done since his election victory – granted, primarily on the back of tax reforms – it’s easy to see why this may not be the most investor-friendly result.”

The benchmark S&P 500 index has climbed 28 per cent since Trump’s election in November 2016, more than under any other president in comparable periods in the past 64 years.

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With so much at stake, currency market moves were tight. The dollar hardly moved against the euro and gained some ground against the yen.

Sterling erased earlier losses in volatile trading on growing hopes of a Brexit deal breakthrough after a British Cabinet meeting.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, rose 0.02 per cent, with the euro up 0.05 per cent to $1.1412.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.19 per cent versus the greenback at 113.42 per dollar.

Italian shares were essentially flat, despite frayed nerves in Italy after euro zone finance ministers called on Rome to change its budget to conform with European Union rules at a meeting late on Monday.

Oil prices sank, with U.S. crude futures sliding to a seven-month low, as Iran said it has so far been able to sell as much oil as it needs to after Washington granted sanction waivers to top buyers of Iranian oil.

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U.S. crude oil futures settled at $62.21 per barrel, down 89 cents, or 1.41 per cent. Brent crude futures settled at $72.13, down $1.04 or 1.42 percent.

“The details on the Iran sanctions waivers are trickling out, and it appears much more Iranian oil will remain on the market in the near-term than previously thought,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management in New York.

Both oil benchmarks have slid more than 15 per cent since hitting four-year highs in early October.

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