The S&P 500 futures rose slightly on Wednesday in volatile trading as the presidential election results arrived with no clear winner. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index, which is home to many technology stocks, performed better, but broader market gains were capped as both candidates claimed they were on the way to profit.
S&P 500 futures gained 0.6%. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures alternated between strong gains and losses. By 12:51 p.m. they were flat. Nasdaq 100 futures traded 2.2% higher. At the beginning of the session, these contracts increased by more than 3%.
As the night progresses, it becomes less and less likely that there will be a call to the presidential race on election night.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden seemed unable to take North Carolina, and President Donald Trump was in the lead in that state, according to NBC News. However, Biden was a leader in Arizona, despite NBC News saying it was too early to call the state. Determining the major swing states Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania could take days.
"We believe we are on the right track to win this election," Biden told the Delaware fans overnight. The contestant said the winner could be known Wednesday morning but it could take a little longer.
Meanwhile, Trump tweeted, "We're GREAT, but they're trying to steal the election."
So far, Trump will win the Florida, Indiana and Kentucky presidential elections along with NBC News projects in South Dakota, Arkansas and Ohio. Trump is also expected to win Alabama and North Dakota. According to NBC News, Biden is slated to win Vermont, Delaware, Maryland and Massachusetts, as well as Colorado, New York and Virginia.
Investors also watched to see if Republicans would retain their majority in the Senate.
Other financial markets spun when the results came in:
Bonds returned higher and the yield on the 10 year Treasury note fell to 0.81%. (Returns move inversely with prices.) Futures for the small-cap benchmark Russell 2000 fell 0.4% after rising earlier. The US dollar index rose 0.4% after a previous decline. The greenback also hit its highest level since October 2 against the Chinese yuan. Oil futures were up 1.9%.
"We see in one night what we've seen for the past two weeks. This is a tug-of-war within the survey itself that, if uncertainty persists, results in large market volatility," said Keith Lerner, chief market strategist at Truist / SunTrust Advisory.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC's Kayla Tausche that a few hundred participants watched the election results in the East Room and described the atmosphere as "great".
During Tuesday's regular trading session, the Dow was down more than 500 points, or 2.1%. The S&P 500 was up 1.8% and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.9%. These gains contributed to Monday's strong performance.
This week's market moves come as investors hoped a late or controversial US presidential election result is avoided and a clear winner emerges Tuesday night.
"This recent price hike appears to be a 'rally of clarity' as investors look forward to finally clearing the excess of election uncertainty," Vital Knowledge founder Adam Crisafulli wrote in a note Tuesday.
Biden was ahead of Trump in the polls before Tuesday. Wall Street is also watching some key races to see which party can take control of the Senate. Republican Senator Joni Ernst is set to win the Iowa Senate race.
Some investors bet on what is known as a blue wave, a scenario in which Democrats win the White House and retake a Senate majority. Some of these investors had switched out of tech stocks thinking the Democrats would impose higher taxes that would hit those stocks. The theory is that investors would sell successful tech stocks before higher capital gains taxes were introduced. A Trump victory or the Republicans maintaining the Senate majority would make this scenario less likely.
According to Baird, the S&P 500 lost an average of 0.4% the day after the presidential election.
Chao Ma of the Wells Fargo Investment Institute believes investors with a longer time horizon shouldn't worry too much about the impact of the election on the broader market.
"The history of the economy and the S&P 500 Index suggest that a president's party affiliation made little difference in terms of long-term returns," said the company's global portfolio and investment strategist. "The long-term drivers of the S&P 500 index have been economic and business gains, and we expect that will continue after the 2020 elections."
A year after the presidential election, the S&P 500 achieved an average return of more than 8%, according to Baird in 1960.
– CNBC's Pippa Stevens contributed to this report.
Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis as well as live business day programs from around the world.