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Futures Seesaw as Election Heads Into Overtime

Biden urges 'patience' while Trump claims counting absentee ballots is attempt to 'steal' the election.
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Stock futures seesawed heading into Wednesday as the U.S. Presidential election remained undecided and President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden traded comments on Twitter.   

Nasdaq, S&P 500 and Dow futures moved from positive to negative territory repeatedly as vote tabulations showed President Donald Trump performing far better than most polls had forecast. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 555 points, or 2.06%, at 27,480; the S&P 500 gained 1.78%; and the Nasdaq rose 1.85% Tuesday, ahead of the vote counting. 

In a brief speech, Biden urged his followers to "Keep the faith," and told them, "We believe we're on track to win this election."

Trump tweeted "We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election." Twitter flagged the tweet as "potentially misleading." Trump indicated he would be making a statement sometime during the morning, adding "a big WIN!" 

Around 2:30 a.m. Eastern, Trump spoke from the East Wing of the White House. After tallying the states where he claimed he was ahead, Trump posited it would be impossible for Biden to catch up. “The results were phenomenal,” and “there’s never been anything like it,” he added. 

Media reports noted at that time, results were mostly election-day votes, while many early and mail-in votes remained to be counted in states like Michigan and Wisconsin.

In his Tuesday night episode of Mad Money, TheStreet's Jim Cramer said investors know that stocks will probably stay strong regardless of who wins the White House. Plus, after last week's weakness, investors were ready for an Election Day rally.

Trump performed far better than forecast by most polls, as he held onto his Southern base and showed strength in key Midwestern battleground states.  The president won victories in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. 

However, Biden told supporters that "We're going to have to be patient," noting that Arizona had been called for him and that "we're feeling real good about Wisconsin and Michigan."  Biden added that "we're going to win Pennsylvania."

Unprecedented numbers of absentee ballots remain to be counted in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, among other key states.  

Pennsylvania remains key to Biden's hopes, but there, too, Trump was outperforming expectations in early counting. Like Wisconsin, mail-in ballots have yet to be tallied there and the secretary of state has said final results might not be available until Friday. Trump also showed strength in Michigan, another state with many absentee ballots yet to be counted.  

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Networks called Indiana, home state of Vice President Mike Pence, and Kentucky for Trump shortly after polls in each state closed.

Biden was called the winner in Vermont and Virginia, New York and much of the Northeast. 

Trump was also projected to win Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.  

About 100 million Americans voted early this year as a way to avoid spreading and being exposed to the coronavirus. The huge surge in mail-in balloting could mean no winner is known for several days.

Control of the U.S Senate is also up for grabs in Tuesday’s election. Democrats appeared to be falling short likely missing chances to flip seats in North Carolina and Iowa and on the road to losing a seat in Michigan.  Democrats need to win at least four senate seats currently held by Republicans to gain control of the upper chamber.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky held onto his seat, denying Democrats another chance to flip a seat.

The House of representative is projected to remain in the control of Democrats.

Late Tuesday night in California, the Associated Press reported that state's Prop. 22 -- which classifies app-based drivers as independent contractors and not employees -- was headed for approval with 58% voting yes and 63% of precincts reporting. The proposition was supported by Uber  (UBER) - Get Uber Technologies, Inc. Report and Lyft  (LYFT) - Get Lyft, Inc. Class A Report.

Final Days

The final days of the campaign saw aggressive campaigning by Trump and Biden in Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Ohio. Trump also made repeated visits to Michigan and Wisconsin, two states that played a key role in his surprise win in 2016.

While Biden has held the lead in most national polls for weeks, it is the fights in the battleground states that will determine the ultimate winner in the Electoral College. Before voting began, Biden appeared to hold the upper hand, but Democrats remain wary, remembering that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was shown ahead in most polls before the 2016 election.

Trump must win Florida and Pennsylvania in order to have a realistic chance at winning the election. Even then he would need to run the table of battleground states like North Carolina, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa and Ohio.

Texas  appeared set to remain in the Republican column this year. Republicans have mounted a number of legal battles to limit voting in Harris County, home of Houston. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered that each county in the state maintain only one drop box location for ballots, a move decried as an attempt to disenfranchise minority voters concentrated in Houston. Republicans then sued, and failed, to disqualify more than 100,000 ballots that were dropped off by cars in Harris County under rules to make voting easier due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump has already indicated the legal tussles will continue, saying at a rally  Sunday that "as soon as that election is over, we're going in with our lawyers."