It's the day before the presidential election, and the baby-kissing, opponent-trashing, Super PAC spend-fest is almost over. Soon we will have our regularly scheduled commercials back!
As uncertainty grips the country, investors don't quite know what to do with themselves, and stocks are just moving sideways today. As of 3:15 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is up a paltry 0.03%, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) is up 0.1%.
The Dow was split between winners and losers, as you might expect, and even the biggest movers aren't setting the world on fire. Shares of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) fell 1.2% today -- the biggest move on the Dow. Humana (NYSE:HUM) reported slightly disappointing revenue, which may have affected UnitedHealth's stock slightly. There's also a "risk-off" atmosphere ahead of the election. Let's be honest: No one knows what will happen to insurers if Mitt Romney is elected, and some are nervous about Obamacare going through, so investors are taking a hands-off approach for now.
Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) is leading the banks lower today. There's nothing bankers would like more than a Romney win, but many experts are predicting an Obama win, and for the short-term this has banking stocks moving lower. Profit has actually soared for banks under the current administration, so no matter who wins, I don't think the election is a reason to change your long-term thesis on banking stocks.
On the positive side, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) jumped 1% on word that it increased its stake in the nonprofit Linux Foundation. Investors are speculating that this may mean more webOS devices in the future. The investment gets the company a seat on the foundation's governing board, which will give the company a say in what Linux develops in the future.