Stocks Head for Rally as US Election Begins

The Wall St. street sign is photographed in front of the American flag hanging on the New York Stock Exchange prior to a NYC Central Labor Council rally for worker protections, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK – Wall Street was raring for an Election Day rally Tuesday, sending stock futures soaring as millions of Americans battered by tumbling home prices, tight credit and an uncertain job market headed to the polls. Ahead of the market's open, Dow futures rose 183, or 1.96 percent, to 9,515.

Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 20.10, or 2.07 percent, to 989.60, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 1.50, or 0.11 percent, to 1,338.50.

Analysts by and large do not believe that one candidate would boost the pummeled stock market more than the other. In fact, they predict that stocks are headed for a recovery no matter who is elected, and that the policies of both John McCain and Barack Obama will be guided largely by the weak economy and recent flood of government intervention enacted to keep the global financial system from collapsing.

But Wall Street does not like uncertainty, so investors want to put the election behind them and focus on the fundamentals.

The fundamentals are grim. A day after the Institute for Supply Management revealed the worst monthly contraction in manufacturing activity and automakers reported the lowest level of U.S. car sales in more than 17 years, the market is expecting Commerce Department data at 10 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday to show the second straight monthly drop in factory orders during September.

But given how much the Dow Jones industrial average has shed this year — the index is down 34.2 percent from its Oct. 9, 2007 peak of 14,164.53 — many market watchers believe the economy's weakness could be priced in already.

On Monday, the stock market closed narrowly mixed in light trading. The Dow did something that has become unheard of in recent months — it made just a single-digit point decline.

Early Tuesday, the dollar fell against most other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Light, sweet crude rose 26 cents to $64.17 a barrel in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In Asian trading, Japan's Nikkei index soared 6.27 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged up 0.3 percent. In morning trading in Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1.76 percent, Germany's DAX index rose 2.02 percent, and France's CAC-40 advanced 2.13 percent.