Fed meeting in sight but election looms for stocks | Reuters
By Caroline Valetkevitch | NEW YORK NEW YORK The Federal Reserve meets next week and the U.S. government releases an important report on jobs, but investors could be forgiven for having something else on their minds.The heated U.S. presidential campaign, which for months has grabbed the bulk of U.S
By Caroline Valetkevitch
| NEW YORK
NEW YORK The Federal Reserve meets next week and the U.S. government releases an important report on jobs, but investors could be forgiven for having something else on their minds.The heated U.S. presidential campaign, which for months has grabbed the bulk of U.S. news headlines, enters its final stretch next week before the Nov. 8 vote, and the race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump of late has provided market-moving surprises.In the latest reminder of how an upset in the expected outcome could rattle investors, news came on Friday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is reviewing fresh evidence in its probe of Clinton's email server.That briefly pushed stocks down sharply and drove the CBOE Volatility Index .VIX - Wall Street's fear gauge - to a two-week high."We're so close to the election, and the pots are boiling. There's always something going on," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama."And where there's uncertainty with the Oval Office, it seems to historically cause problems for the market." Wall Street has been expecting Clinton to win her White House bid but Republicans to retain at least the U.S. House of Representatives, essentially keeping the current state of political gridlock.
In recent weeks, Clinton's lead has widened in polls, causing some concern about the Democrats potentially winning control of both the presidency and Congress."That would be bad for certain sectors including health care and perhaps the financial sector," said Ed Campbell, a portfolio manager at QMA, a multi-asset manager owned by Prudential Financial. "But I don't think that's likely to happen."Investor expectations also are low that the Fed will raise interest rates when it meets Tuesday and Wednesday, especially since the meeting falls just days ahead of the election.
The chances appear to be less than 10 percent that the Fed will raise rates next week, while there's about a 75 percent chance the Fed will hike rates in December, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool on Friday."I think it's largely going to be a non-event," Campbell said. "They'd be loath to surprise the market, especially one week before the election."What could shake equities, however, is any comment from the Fed that could indicate the possible timing of the next hike.At the Fed's November meeting last year, it tweaked its policy statement to specifically reference the next policy meeting as a date of a possible rate lift-off, a move that grabbed investors' attention.
The Fed then in December raised rates for the first time in nearly a decade.If it's strong enough, Friday's jobs report could bolster already broad expectations that the Fed will raise rates again this December.Economists polled by Reuters show expected non farm job gains of 175,000 for October, up from 156,000 the previous month."Post-election day, you might see a little bit of relief but then you start worrying about the Fed," said Steve Chiavarone, portfolio manager at Federated Investors. (Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Additional reporting by Saqib Ahmed; Editing by James Dalgleish)
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By Maher Chmaytelli | BAGHDAD BAGHDAD Islamic State claimed a series of suicide attacks that killed at least 14 people south and west of Baghdad on Monday as a U.S.-backed campaign to capture Mosul, the insurgents' last urban stronghold in Iraq, made slow progress. The attacks showed that even though the jihadists have been losing territory over the past year - and face a big battle to hold Mosul in the north - they retain the ability to strike across Iraq, even in the central areas near the capital
By Stephen Kalin | BARTELLA, Iraq BARTELLA, Iraq The din of bullets, mortars and bombs in the northern Iraqi town of Bartella was replaced momentarily on Friday by a sound not heard there for more than two years: the peal of church bells.A cautious calm returned to this historic Christian area following its recapture from Islamic State a day earlier as Iraqi forces push west towards Mosul, the jihadists' last major stronghold in the country.Bartella, once home to thousands of Assyrian Christians, emptied in August 2014 when Islamic State seized control as part of a lightning blitz across large swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria.Nearby Qaraqosh, Iraq's largest Christian town, remains under the control of militants, according to a commander in the peshmerga, which holds nearby ground. Clouds of smoke were seen billowing from that direction this week, though the source was unclear.Islamic State, which has targeted the adherents and religious sites of minority communities in both countries, issued an ultimatum to Christians: pay a tax, convert to Islam, or die by the sword. Most, including all of Bartella's residents, fled towards the autonomous Kurdish region.It will be some time before people can return to the town, which witnessed intense fighting on Thursday between Islamic State and troops from the counter-terrorism service (CTS) which are spearheading the Mosul offensive along with Kurdish peshmerga forces and Iraq's army and national police.The road west into Bartella is littered with the remnants of that battle: bullet casings, deactivated improvised explosive devices (IEDs), shrapnel from car bombs and roadside blasts.The jihadists dispatched more than a dozen vehicle-borne IEDs against government forces in the span of a few hours on Thursday, Iraqi commanders said, but they left many more planted throughout the town's streets and buildings.CTS spent Friday shuttering tunnels dug by the militants and removing those mines, though some remain in secondary roads and houses.
ROME Hundreds of Muslims prayed next to Rome's Colosseum on Friday to protest against the closure of makeshift mosques, calling on city authorities to protect their religious rights.Worshippers knelt on prayer mats and tarpaulin on the pavement metres away from the ancient amphitheatre.