Stocks were flat to slightly lower in midday trading Thursday, struggling to break a seven-day losing streak. Investors’ enthusiasm was checked as they remain transfixed on the potential outcome of next week’s U.S. presidential election.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was little changed at 17,957 as of 12:30 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,095 and the Nasdaq composite lost 23 points, or 0.5 percent, to reach 5,082.
ELECTION JITTERS: With five days left until the election, Hillary Clinton maintains a lead in polling in the U.S. presidential race but Donald Trump has narrowed the gap. Investors generally favor a Clinton victory as she is seen as maintaining the status quo. Trump’s policies are less clear, and the uncertainty has caused jitters in financial markets.
The Mexican peso, which has become Wall Street’s proxy for Trump’s chances at the White House, advanced 1 percent against the dollar on Thursday. Investors have speculated that a Trump administration would be negative for the Mexican economy, and would cause the Mexican peso’s value to fall as a result.
POUND UP: The battered British pound jumped more than 1 percent to $1.244 after a court ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May must hold a vote in parliament over leaving the European Union. May had maintained that the government could give the EU notice it is leaving without such a vote, after voters chose the “leave” option in a referendum in June.
A vote in parliament was seen as making it less likely that the government would wind up with a “hard” exit involving loss of access to tariff-free business with the EU, which is the country’s largest trading partner. The government can appeal the court decision.
OUT OF SHAPE: Fitbit, the maker of wearable fitness trackers and other devices, plunged $3.88, or 30 percent, to $8.86 after the company slashed its outlook for the year, citing weak demand for its products. The company also cut its sales forecast for the holiday shopping season.
UN-LIKED: Facebook fell $7.08, or 5.5 percent, to $120.10. While the company reported third quarter results that easily exceeded analysts’ estimates, it also acknowledged that growth in advertising revenue was slowing.
ENERGY: The price of crude oil extended a losing streak into a fifth day. Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 59 cents to $44.75 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, was unchanged at $46.86 a barrel in London.
BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.81 percent from 1.80 percent a day earlier. In currency trading, the dollar fell to 102.98 yen from 103.28 yen, while the euro edged up to $1.1099 from $1.1096 the day before.