S&P 500 index marks its longest losing streak in 36 years

By KEN SWEET

NEW YORK (AP) — The slow, steady retreat of the stock market ahead of the 2016 election continued Friday, with the market falling for a ninth straight day. Wall Street is now in its longest period of decline in more than three decades.

Investors continue to focus on the U.S. presidential election, which has become too close for comfort for some investors and has put the market on the defensive.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 42.39 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,888.28. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 3.48 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,085.18 and the Nasdaq composite lost 12.04 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,046.37.

The last time the S&P 500 fell for nine straight days is December 1980, nearly 36 years ago. Ronald Reagan wasn't even president yet.

However the nine days' worth of declines has been relatively minor, comparatively speaking. The S&P 500 fell 9.4 percent during the 1980 nine-day losing streak, according to Howard Silverblatt at S&P Global Market Intelligence, compared with the 3.1 percent decline in this sell-off.

Investors point to one reason for the drop: Donald Trump.

With only a few days left until the election, Hillary Clinton is still leading in national polling but Trump appears to have considerably narrowed the gap, particularly in swing states. Investors like certainty, and Clinton is seen as likely to maintain the status quo. Trump's policies are less clear, and the uncertainty and uncomfortable closeness of the polls has caused jitters in financial markets.

"Some investors are afraid of Donald Trump becoming president," said Michael Scanlon, a portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.

Other portfolio managers and market strategists have made similar comments, saying that it is likely a drop would continue on Wall Street if Trump were to prevail, at least in the short term. The VIX, a measure of volatility nicknamed Wall Street's "fear gauge" because it allows investors to bet on how much the stock market will swing in the next 30 days, has surged 40 percent this week. It is at its highest level since June, when Britain voted to leave the European Union.

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