European stocks held onto modest gains Tuesday as Americans headed to the polls to elect both a President and a House of Representatives following a gruelling and polarizing campaign that has implications for financial markets around the world.
Benchmarks around Europe and the United Kingdom were little changed throughout the session, however, as investors steered clear of risky assets following a broader global market rally that lifted share prices in the wake of the FBI's decision to close the book on its investigation into Hillary Clinton's email use. The resulting poll boost for the Democratic candidate built an edge over her Republican challenger, Donald Trump, that she has held throughout the past two days.
Forecasting website fivethirtyeight.com has pegged the chances of a Clinton victory at 71.4%, 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 3.6 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.
Britain's FTSE 100, like most of the major markets in the region, closed with modest gains, adding just 2 points to Monday's close and ending the session at 6485.8 points. Germany's DAX index closed at 10480.6 and France's CAC-40 at 4475.5 points.
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.
Shares in the retailer fell 5.16% on the session to 330.67 pence each.
On the opposite end, 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.
Shares in France's third biggest bank 5.6% Tuesday to change hands at €10.27 the highest since March, by 11:43 Paris time.
The pound edged marginally higher to 1.2370 against the U.S. dollar, which itself was largely unchanged in the day's trading against a basket of global currencies.