Futures rise as investors bet on Biden victory, more stimulus

By Medha Singh

(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Tuesday as investors bet on a Joe Biden victory followed by a swift deal on more fiscal stimulus in one of the most divisive presidential races in U.S. history.

After slumping to five-week lows last week, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq began November on a strong footing as the consistent lead for Democratic presidential nominee Biden in national opinion polls raised hopes of a bigger stimulus package after the election.

Democrats are also favored to emerge from 14 hotly contested U.S. Senate races with full control of Congress in Tuesday's election, although final results from at least five of those contests may not be available for days, and in some cases, months.

"Currently, the market is betting on a Biden win," said Christian Stocker, UniCredit's lead equity sector strategist.

"Under a Biden presidency, the U.S. economy should be more supportive for equity markets - an economy with more stimulus programs will be perfect for the outperformance of cyclical sectors."

Shares of big U.S. banks including Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, which are sensitive to the economic outlook, gained between 1.4% and 2% in premarket trading.

The CBOE volatility index, investors' fear gauge, retreated for a second day after touching a 20-week high last week on surging coronavirus cases globally.

Still, the competition in swing states is seen as close enough that Republican President Donald could still piece together the 270 Electoral College votes he needs to stay in the White House for another four years.

Investors are also bracing for wild market swings in case there is no immediate outcome on Tuesday night due to a protracted ballot count or a disputed result.

The benchmark S&P 500 has surged about 55% since clinched an upset victory in 2016 as lower tax rates under his administration boosted corporate profits.

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At 6:39 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 419 points, or 1.56%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 39.5 points, or 1.2%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 50.5 points, or 0.46%.

PayPal Holdings Inc dropped 4.8% after it forecast current-quarter profit below expectations.

Investors will also look to the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting and a monthly jobs report later this week.

(Reporting by Medha Singh and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Anil D'Silva)

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