The operative word is

uncertainty.

In the final weeks of this most uninvolving election season (pre-

Florida Recount

, natch), Wall Street's collective take on the race was: Wish for gridlock and wake us when it's over. There was the usual theoretical speculation about which sectors are in good stead if

Gore

/

Bush

wins the presidency. But the gist of it, from an investment perspective, was tidily summed up by

Merrill Lynch Focus Twenty

fund manager

Jim McCall: "The key thing is to get it over with, not necessarily who wins."

File the events of recent days in the "Be Careful What You Wish For" cabinet. As it turns out, the ungodly close results (and, surely, Dan Rather has some

bizarre, folksy aphorism to describe the narrow margin) have given the markets more gridlock than it desired. At the very least, it will take until Nov. 17 to tally the absentee ballots to determine a victor, but the specter of a hard stance by both sides and a spate of possible legal challenges pose the threat that we won't know who the nation's chief executive this year. The markets

swooned briefly Thursday when the

Dems

indicated they wouldn't go quietly.

Now, the

uncertainty

of the presidential election -- in the near term, at least -- moves up on the list of

uncertainties

unsettling the market: signs of slackening capital spending, lingering worries from recent earnings and the fear that battered tech stocks still have room to fall.

This weekend's

Personal Finance Focus

can't promise to resolve the election quandary or the other continuing concerns -- we're not running for office, after all. But we certainly can offer some advice that can help you navigate these

uncertain

times, including:

Ian McDonald's

Big Screen

, which takes a look at where high-octane fund family

Invesco

is hunting for favorites in this choppy market.

Tracy Byrnes'

Investor Forum

, which answers queries on trading in your IRA and adds more readers' "Signs of a Bubble."

We'll also include

Mark Ingerbretsen's

Tools of the Trade

,

Stock in the Spotlight

, and much more. See you Saturday.