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Stocks in the News

Ryan McQueeney

Here's How Stocks Have Performed on Recent Election Days

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The day is finally here. After what feels like years (it’s only been a few months?!) of relentless back-and-forth between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Americans will make a decision on Tuesday.

Heading into Election Day, Clinton held a four point lead in CNN’s Poll of Polls, which makes the race far too close to call early. The stock market has overwhelmingly favored a Clinton victory up to this point, but the lingering uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the election makes near-term performance unpredictable.

Looking back at other recent presidential Election Days, we see a pattern of unpredictability. On both the day of the election and the day after, stock market performance has reflected the existing sentiment of the market regarding the eventual winner, but the extent of this reaction has varied.

For example, the S&P 500 gained 0.79% on Election Day 2012 but dipped 2.37% the next day. If you’ll remember, a major issue heading into that election was the impending “fiscal cliff,” and investors had expressed concern over how President Obama would handle that situation.

The 2008 election is a bit of an outlier, as gains of 4.08% on Election Day highlighted the excitement for any new administration in the face of a battered economy. Stocks plunged 5.27% the next day after investors took off the rose-colored glasses and realized the market was still fundamentally unhealthy.

On Election Day 2004 and 2000, the S&P 500 remained relatively flat. In 2004, the market gained 1.12% the following day, but stocks were down 1.58% the day after the election in 2000.

After several-day stretch of losses, the S&P 500 is on pace for its best two-day climb since June. The Index erased a 0.4% opening slide and was up 0.65% by 12:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, just a day after stocks gained about 2.2% following the news that the FBI had not changed its decision about Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

The whole country will continue to have its eyes centered on the election until a winner is called, and perhaps even after that if Trump maintains his promised skepticism over the results. Investors should also be keeping an eye on the results, as the markets will almost certainly have something to say about them as well.

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