Stocks advance modestly as crucial midterm elections get under way

U.S. stocks drifted higher after the opening bell Tuesday, as traders awaited the results of midterm elections that could set the political tone on Wall Street for at least the next two years.

How are the benchmarks performing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.30% rose 35 points, or 0.1%, at 25,495, the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.45%  added 6.7 points to reach 2,745, a rise of 0.2%, while the Nasdaq Composite Index NQZ8, +1.03% rose 0.5%, or 38 points, at 7,366.

On Monday, the Dow DJIA, +0.30% rose 190.87 points to 25,461.70, a gain of 0.8%, and the S&P 500 SPX, +0.45% added 15.25 points, or 0.6%, to end at 2,738.31. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.88% meanwhile, fell 28.14 points, or 0.4%, to 7,328.85.

What’s driving the market?

Midterm elections, which are expected to see Democrats take control of the House and Republicans maintain a grip on the Senate, are under way and the results could have implications for President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda.

Check out: How traders are thinking about dollar wagers ahead of midterm elections, the Fed

In the final pre-election Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Sunday, Democrats held a 7 percentage-point lead on the question of which party should control the next Congress.

The most likely outcome of the elections is political gridlock, which has historically been a positive for investors, but may forestall expectations for infrastructure investments and further deregulation that might help lift shares of financial firms.

Meanwhile, investors were keeping one eye on crude-oil prices CLZ8, +0.21% a day after the Trump administration imposed fresh sanctions aimed at curtailing Iranian oil exports.

Abroad, market participants are also watching developments around U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and her tense negotiations with the European Union to exit a longstanding pact with the trade bloc.

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