Financial markets continue to price in Clinton win after debate

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street stock index futures were little changed throughout Sunday’s highly contentious presidential debate, indicating that markets continue to view that Democrat Hillary Clinton holds an edge in the Nov. 8 election against her Republican rival, Donald Trump.

A trader works at his desk as the U.S. presidential town hall debate between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is shown on television at Citibank's trading floor located in central Sydney, Australia, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray

The 90-minute debate got off to a chilly start when Clinton and Trump greeted each other without the traditional handshake.

It quickly turned into an acrimonious discussion of a 2005 video that emerged on Friday in which Trump was heard using vulgar language and talking about groping women without consent.

Investors said there was not enough in terms of policy substance in Sunday’s debate to change the market’s perception of the direction of the race.

“I don’t think it changed people’s opinions in the investing community that Clinton is more likely to win, as she was before the debate, certainly after Friday,” said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

In a video released on Friday, Trump is heard talking on an open microphone in 2005 about groping women and trying to seduce a married woman. The video was taped only months after Trump married his third wife, Melania.

“There is still time to go and more things that could happen, but financial advisors are probably starting to feel they need to think about a Clinton win in terms of an investment thesis for 2017,” Meckler said.

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He said such a thesis would likely include government intervention in healthcare, particularly medicine prices, and little support for coal as an energy source.

S&P e-mini futures remained in a tight range throughout the debate, slightly higher than at the close on Friday.

“The market declared tonight’s debate a draw and has no more clue after debate than before, at least not in watching the S&P futures. Once again the debate was great theater, but did not give the market any insight,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade.

“Despite the night’s civil ending, it was hard to glean much information, as a good part of the debate was simply a name-calling fest.”

Strategists in a recent Reuters equity poll mostly viewed an election victory on Nov. 8 by Clinton as more positive for the stock market through the end of the year, largely because her positions -unlike her opponent’s- are well known.

Steven Englander, global head of G10 currency strategy at CitiFX in New York, said: "Both Trump and Clinton supporters expected that emerging market currencies and U.S. equities would go down and the VIX .VIX would go up if Trump were to win and vice versa if Clinton wins," he added.

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Trump has been critical of a U.S. trade deal with Mexico and Canada as well as other trade deals, and has promised to build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it.

The Mexican peso rose as much as 2 percent on Sunday and was last trading up 1.3 percent versus the greenback. S&P 500 e-minis ESc1, which were up 6 points shortly after opening three hours before the debate began, were up 5.25 points, or 0.24 percent.

“It’s a positive reaction (in stocks), and it’s very consistent with what the market has been discounting, which is that Clinton will win and that’s good news,” said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer of Hugh Johnson Advisors LLC in Albany, New York, before the debate.

“It’s also saying the House of Representatives will stay in the hands of the Republicans,” he added.

U.S. stocks briefly gained ground following a perceived win by Clinton in the first presidential debate last month.

Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Additional reporting by Jennifer Ablan; Editing by Alan Crosby, Alistair Bell & Shri Navaratnam