Stock Futures Mixed on Eve of Election Day

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were little changed Monday as the markets awaited Tuesday's U.S. presidential election.

Investors also will be watching a once-in-a-decade leadership shuffle in China, where the country's 18th National Party congress kicks off Thursday.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were rising 3 points, or 33.16 points below fair value, at 12,994. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 0.60 points, or 4.35 points below fair value, at 1404. Futures for the Nasdaq were down 0.25 points, or 8.83 points below fair value, at 2640.

"The U.S. economy is still operating distinctly below its potential and unemployment is right on the historical cusp of assuring any challenging party a solid victory. A loss on Tuesday for either party -- and one will certainly draw the short straw -- is going to go down very poorly indeed among the faithful and their representatives in government," commented Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx. "That's a problem for the country, because there is a lot of heavy lifting to be done in the coming months with respect to the package of tax increases and spending cuts known as the Fiscal Cliff."

"Markets remain transfixed by politics. With so many close races in the U.S., the threat of multiple hanging chad counts might delay the election result beyond Tuesday. Some states like Ohio are still changing the rules, which may lead to legal challenges," noted Paul Donovan, global economist at UBS.

The major U.S. equity averages finished last week's truncated trading week -- when exchanges were closed for several days because of Hurricane Sandy -- with steep losses on Friday as the October jobs report fell flat ahead of the election.

The Institute for Supply Management is forecast by economists to say Monday that its services index fell to 54.5 in October from 55.1 in September. The report is due at 10 a.m. EST.

Overseas markets were in the red, as investors around the world anxiously awaited the outcome of the U.S. elections. The FTSE 100 in London was falling 0.62%, while the DAX in Germany was losing 0.65%, with Greece getting ready to approach parliament with a new austerity plan, a sequential increase in Spanish jobless claims last month, and the European Central Bank assessing whether it has been too generous on terms on Spanish bank loans.

Japan's Nikkei average finished down 0.48% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed down 0.47% Monday as a private study of China's services sector declined in October.

Gold for December delivery was rising $5.70 to $1,680.90 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while December crude oil contracts were up 21 cents at $85.07 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury rose 12/32, pushing the yield down to 1.678%. The dollar was up 0.22%, according to the U.S. dollar index .

In corporate news, IntercontinentalExchange ( ICE) posted lower-than-expected third-quarter revenue amid a slump in credit default swap activity and a decline in trading volume for over-the-counter North American natural gas and power contracts.

Rockwell Automation ( ROK) booked fiscal fourth-quarter results that exceeded Wall Street targets and provided fiscal 2013 guidance with a midpoint that surpassed expectations, as organic sales increased 5% in the quarter.

Humana ( HUM), the health insurer, hiked its 2012 forecast and announced the acquisition of Metropolitan Health Networks ( MDF).

Time Warner Cable ( TWC) posted third-quarter results that missed Wall Street expectations after it lost more video subscribers than expected.

Berkshire Hathaway ( BRK.B) on Friday said third-quarter profit jumped 72% to $3.92 billion, or $1.58 per Class B share. Shares were up 0.71% in premarket trading.

European banking giant HSBC ( HBC) said Monday third-quarter profit fell 52% and it set aside another $1.15 billion to cover potential U.S. fines for failing to stop money-laundering in its Mexican unit and compensate its U.K. customers for mis-selling payment protection insurance. Shares were sliding more than 1%.

Earnings at Japanese automaker Toyota ( TM) tripled, and the company said Monday it raised its full-year earnings forecast. Shares were jumping more than 3.5%.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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