WASHINGTON - Key U.S. stock market indexes rose four-tenths of one percent or more on Tuesday as millions of Americans headed to the polls to pick a new president.
Many analysts predict a modest gain in stock prices and a stronger dollar if Democrat Hillary Clinton wins the election.
If Donald Trump becomes president, analysts expect a sharp decline in stock prices and a move to safe-haven assets. The real-estate mogul and entertainer has promised to make major changes in U.S. trade, taxes and regulatory practices if he is elected, and the uncertainty this would create troubles investors.
Reuters reports that major investment banks warned clients a victory by Trump could slash the value of the U.S. dollar by as much as five percent. The same sources said the greenback would make modest gains if Clinton wins. The Democrat has been critical of U.S. trade policies and major financial firms, but is seen by investors as more predictable than Trump.
During the campaign, stock prices often declined when Trump's popularity rose in public-opinion polls, and rose when the polls appeared to favor Clinton.
Economic policy played a key role in this election, as much of Trump's support came from white, working-class men without college degrees. They have been hurt by the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs in recent years. Trump has promised to bring those jobs back with a stern approach to trade issues. Many economists say his plans are unworkable.
Meanwhile, the U.S. economy continues its frustratingly slow recovery from the financial crisis. The latest GDP figures, which measure economic growth, show the world's largest economy expanded at a 2.9 percent annual rate in July, August, and September. Incomes, which have been stagnant for years, have begun to grow faster than inflation. During the recession, the unemployment rate hit 10 percent, but has now dropped to 4.9 percent.