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The US election is scheduled for Tuesday 3 November 2020, when all 50 states and Washington DC will cast their votes. The vote spans six different time zones, so the first exit polls will be available at around 11pm (EST) when West Coast voting closes. In the UK, that will be around 4am (GMT) on Wednesday 4 November 2020.
The election is likely to create opportunities for traders, with price movements expected across a range of forex pairs, indices and commodities in the run-up to polling day. Volatility related to the election could continue until congress certifies the result on Wednesday 6 January 2021, or even until the winner is inaugurated on Wednesday 20 January 2021.
What should traders expect to see during the US election?
All US markets tend to experience increased volatility in the run up to a presidential election, including USD forex pairs, indices and commodities. That’s because many investors will attempt to lock in positions before the result is announced – using polls to gauge public sentiment. The aim is to take full advantage of the price moves that occur when the country’s political direction is confirmed.
At the top level, early indications suggest that the following could be on the cards if one of these two main candidates win:
A Trump win could see an escalation of the trade war, potentially causing problems for some US exporters and having a negative impact on the value of the dollar.
However, this effect could be offset by reassurances that tax cuts and deregulation will continue – boosting the US economy.
A Biden win could see tensions in the trade war cool, providing a boost to US exporters and the dollar.
However, these effects could be offset by tax increases for high-income households, and more limited deregulation.
How will markets react to the different candidates?
Market commentary by IG Senior Market Analyst Joshua Mahony
Markets hate uncertainty, and historically the perception has been that a new president might bring policies that could be harmful for stocks. This happened in 2016 when analysts were confident that a Trump presidency would spark a market collapse.
But, we are now seeing that same fear creep in as people consider a Biden presidency and the potential uncertainty it could cause. Biden is openly more left-leaning, and his policies are expected to be geared towards human needs rather than those of investors and traders.
This sentiment isn’t helped by suggestions that Biden would reverse Trump’s tax cuts, and it is likely that markets will rise alongside the potentially increased chance of a Trump victory as we approach the election.
The value of a currency is supposed to reflect the health of an economy and its future prospects. Many are expecting Biden to be less focused on the markets than his Republican opponent, so the dollar could weaken in the event of a Biden victory.
However, this effect could be offset if Biden is able to improve relations between the US and China after years of market anxiety. In this scenario, it would be the Chinese yuan which may benefit the most, with the trade war having sparked huge upside for USD/CNH.
Keep in mind that if the wider markets fall on a Biden victory – including US stocks and indices – the dollar would likely rally in the short-term to reflect a risk-off move as investors turn to USD.
The prospect of a more expansive fiscal policy under Biden, and from a government which is happy to embark on substantial spending programmes, could provide a boost to precious metals.
There’s a caveat here too, because in the past precious metals have also followed the same patterns as the stock markets during times of crisis. So, any collapse in equity markets that may come from a change at the White House could drag gold lower in the immediate period.
Plus, while Trump has finally seen the kind of stimulus he would have hoped for, a Biden win could result in a more substantial stimulus package if the Democrats gain a foothold in Congress.
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