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Stocks close lower as Clinton and Trump get closer in the polls

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 77.46 points, or 0.4%, to 17,959.64.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 77.46 points, or 0.4%, to 17,959.64.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Stocks retreated for a seventh consecutive day Wednesday, the market’s longest decline in five years, as investor worries about the U.S. presidential election continued to weigh on the market.

A steep decline in oil prices also shook investor confidence.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 77.46 points, or 0.4%, to 17,959.64. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slid 13.78 points, or 0.7%, to 2,097.94 and the Nasdaq composite dropped 48.01 points, or 0.9%, to 5,105.57.

The last time the S&P 500 fell for seven straight days was November 2011, during a flare-up of the European sovereign debt crisis.

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Like most of the public, investors have their eyes glued to the presidential race, as polls between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump show the race has tightened. The narrowing in the race has brought more uncertainty. Gold and bond prices have risen. The VIX, a volatility measure dubbed the “fear gauge” for Wall Street, jumped 14% on Tuesday to its highest level since June. It went up an additional 4.4% on Wednesday.

Read more: The latest from the presidential campaign trail »

The Mexican peso, whose decline has become a de facto proxy for Trump’s chances to win the election, has fallen steadily against the U.S. dollar since Friday and fell an additional 1% on Wednesday to 19.425 pesos to the dollar. Investors expect that Mexico’s economy would be negatively affected by a Trump administration, which would weaken the peso.

“The lead-up to the U.S. presidential election was always expected to be lively, but the events of the last couple of days has seriously taken its toll on investor sentiment,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

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Meanwhile, a report from the Energy Department that showed a significant buildup in crude oil supplies last week weighed heavily on oil and energy prices. Benchmark crude oil sank $1.33 to $45.34 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, fell $1.28 to $46.86 a barrel.

Energy stocks were among the biggest decliners in the S&P 500. Pioneer Natural Resources, Marathon Oil and Sempra Energy fell 4% or more.

Aside from the election cliffhanger, investors parsed the latest policy statement from the Federal Reserve. Although the nation’s central bank voted to keep rates at their current level after their two-day meeting, it left the door open to raise rates at its meeting in December. It was expected the Fed would not want to raise rates ahead of the election.

Read more: Fed doesn’t change interest rates, but hints it probably will soon »

“If we get an unexpected election outcome, the Fed might put any increase on hold. We are not convinced that December is a sure thing,” said Brandon Swensen, a portfolio manager and co-head of fixed income trading at RBC Global Asset Management.

In individual company news, Brocade Communications rose 10% to $12.32 after Broadcom announced it would buy the San Jose company for $5.5 billion. Broadcom rose 2.2% to $172.56.

Yelp jumped 9.9% to $35.71 after the San Francisco company reported a surprise profit as users posted more reviews. It’s also cutting jobs as it abandons plans to expand internationally.

Square climbed 6.4% to $11.78 after the San Francisco maker of credit card readers reported revenue that was higher than investors expected and raised its estimates for full-year profit and revenue.

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Electronic Arts rose 1.6% to $79.12 after the Redwood City, Calif., maker of video games beat earnings estimates and raised its full-year profit forecast.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.80% from 1.83% the day before.

The dollar fell to 103.28 yen from 103.97 yen, while the euro rose to $1.1096 from $1.1062.

In other energy trading, heating oil fell 5 cents to $1.47 a gallon, wholesale gasoline fell 4 cents to $1.45 a gallon and natural gas fell 11 cents to $2.792 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Precious and industrial metals futures closed mostly higher. Gold increased $20.20 to $1,308.20 an ounce, silver climbed 28 cents to $18.69 an ounce and copper was little changed at $2.23 a pound. 

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UPDATES:

1:15 p.m.: This article has been updated with additional details and analysis. 

1:15 p.m.: This article has been updated with the close of markets.

8:10 a.m.: This article has been updated with more recent prices and additional market information. 

This article was originally published at 6:55 a.m.


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