European equity markets traded cautiously Tuesday as investors await the start of polling in U.S. Presidential elections after one of the most contentious campaigns in recent history.
Britain's FTSE 100 index added around 27 points, or 0.4%, extending Monday's 90 point gain, and was quoted at around 6817 points at 10:55 GMT. Benchmarks in France and Germany were also showing little change from Monday's close, with the DAX performance index up 8 points and the CAC-40 up 10.7 points, or 0.23%.
With just hours to go before Americans begin voting for their 45th President, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is holding on to a narrow lead over her Republican rival, Donald Trump.
Forecasting website fivethirtyeight.com has pegged the chances of a Clinton victory at 72.2%, based on state-by-state projections for the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. Popular vote polling, however, has Clinton just a few points ahead of Trump, with RealClearPolitics putting her 3 points to the good.
The first state polls - in Indiana and Kentucky - will close at 6 pm Eastern time, or 11:00 pm GMT, with voting in California winding up at 11:00 pm Eastern time, meaning a closely-contested election may not provide a winner until the opening of European markets on Wednesday.
In London Tuesday, one of the more active shares was Marks & Spencer Plc (MAKSY) , which posted slightly better-than-expected profits for is third quarter and maintained its dividend payment Tuesday while revealing a £350 million group-wide restructuring plan.
The U.K. retailer said underlying profit before tax came in at £231.3 million for the three months ending in October, down 18.6% from the same period last year but marginally ahead of analysts' expectations of around £225 million. Group revenues, however, grew by around 0.9% year-on-year to just under $5 billion, the company said.
Shares in the retailer rose 1.7% in early trading to change hands at 355 pence each before giving back those gains and falling 2.3% on the session to 340.74 pence each.
Associated British Foods (ASBFY) surged to the top of the FTSE 100 Tuesday after posting strong sales at its Primark fashion retail brand and beating analysts' expectations for full-year profits.
Primark, which is attempting to take on fast-fashion retailers Zara and H&M (HNNMY) , saw sales rise 9% last year to £5.9 billion ($7.33 billion) in the 53 weeks ended September 17.
Shares in the group were up 5.77% in London to change hands at 2,623 pence each. Year-to-date, however, the shares have fallen by around 20%.
In France, Credit Agricole (CRARF) shares gained the most in four months after beating third quarter expectations by doubling profit on strong debt-trading revenues and after booking the sale of a stake in its network of regional lenders.
The lender said underlying net income rose to €1.86 billion ($2.05 billion) in the three months to the end of September, almost 10% above analyst consensus expectations collated by Reuters, and twice the €930 million posted in the same quarter last year. Underlying revenues rose 12% to €4.41 billion, while operating expenses fell 2%, the bank said.
Shares in France's third biggest bank by market capitalization rose 5.23% Tuesday to change hands at €10.22, the highest since March, by 11:43 Paris time.
Away from equities, fixed income and currency investors in the region were largely focused on a twin set of economic data from Germany, where industrial output misses analysts' expectations but the country's controversial trade surplus swelled past €21 billion.
September industrial production in Europe's biggest economy fell 1.8% from the previous month, far more than the 0.5% contraction expected and following on from a disappointing reading for factory orders. At the same time, Germany's September trade surplus widened to €21.3 billion, the country's statistics office said Tuesday, as exports grew by 0.9% to €63.4 billion.
The euro was holding steady against the US dollar after the data, trading at 1.1062 against a greenback that was little changed against a basket of global currencies during overnight trading in Asia. Benchmark 10-year bund yields traded around 2 basis point higher, at 0.18%, from Monday's close.