Asian shares extend losses as investors fret over US vote

Markets Associated Press

Asian shares extended their losses Friday as nervous investors fretted over the potential outcome of next week's U.S. presidential election, which has become too close to call.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 1.5 percent to 16,879.91 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged 0.04 percent lower to 22,671.51. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.1 percent to 1,981.14 and the S&P ASX 200 fell 0.7 percent to 5,189.80. Shares were lower in Southeast Asia but Shanghai's Composite index was flat at 3,129.29.

WALL STREET: The stock market is now on its longest losing streak since the depths of the 2008 financial crisis, though the losses are more modest. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 0.2 percent to 17,930.67. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.4 percent to 2,088.66 and the Nasdaq composite index fell 0.9 percent to 5,058.41.

PRESIDENTIAL RACE: With five days left until the election, Hillary Clinton maintains a lead in national polling in the U.S. presidential race but Donald Trump has significantly narrowed the gap, particularly in swing states. Investors like certainty, which means they 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 VIX, a measure of volatility that is called Wall Street's "fear gauge," jumped 16 percent this week to its highest level since June. The measure is up 36 percent this week alone.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "It's a pretty simple equation: uncertainty goes up, stock market goes down," said David Kelly, chief global strategist with JPMorgan Funds.

CURRENCIES: The dollar was trading at 103.08, up from 103.00 on Thursday. The euro fell to $1.1094 from $1.1103.

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ENERGY: The price of crude oil steadied after a five day losing streak. Benchmark U.S. crude gained 12 cents to $44.78 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It slipped 68 cents to $44.66 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, was up 13 cents at $46.48. It fell 51 cents at $46.35 a barrel in London.

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Business Writer Ken Sweet in New York contributed to this report.