Asian markets skittish at open as U.S. election remains uncertain

Asian stock markets had a skittish start Wednesday, as investors awaited the result of the U.S. presidential election.

Trader sentiment initially supported a “blue wave” that would lead to swifter economic recovery and approval of a new round of fiscal stimulus, including fresh support for the millions of Americans who are still out of work.

However, election night results show a presidential race that was too close to call, including in many battleground states — particularly all-important Florida.

“Markets have taken a step back from the Democratic sweep scenario,” Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at Axi, told Reuters. “Florida is a critical state for President Donald Trump to win as nearly every avenue to an electoral college victory depends on him winning the state.”

Investors in China were also parsing the news that Alibaba spinoff Ant Group, which was due to list on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges Friday in a highly anticipated $37 billion initial public offering, had its IPO suspended.

The surprise move is a huge blow to Ant controller, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, who is the co-founder of Alibaba, China’s version of Amazon. Ma and two other executives from Ant were summoned for questioning Tuesday by Chinese regulators.

Alibaba, which owns around one-third of Ant, saw its own shares fall by around 9 percent on Wednesday morning. Ma’s own personal fortune took a $3 billion hit.

Ant Group “reported significant issues such as the changes in financial technology regulatory environment” that could “result in your company not meeting the conditions for listing or meeting the information disclosure requirements,” the Shanghai Stock Exchange said in a statement Tuesday.

Asia’s moves came on the heels of the second-best Election Day performance for U.S. markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed with a gain of 552 points on Tuesday, after gaining as much as 715 points at its session high. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were each up 1.8 percent.

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