Markets Down Amid Election Turmoil
LONDON (AP) _ The political world is reeling over a deadlocked U.S. presidential race, and now global markets are also beginning to shudder.
Share prices and trading volume were down on many of the world’s exchanges Friday. While struggling technology stocks appeared the single largest contributor, the undecided election was also taking a large share of the blame.
``The markets are marking time,″ said Adrian Schmidt, senior economist at Chase Manhattan in London.
``The election is one excuse to just sit on your hands right now,″ said Darrell Whitten, strategist for ABN Amro in Tokyo.
An unofficial Associated Press canvass of the presidential vote in Florida showed Republican George W. Bush with just 327 votes ahead of Democrat Al Gore. The state still hasn’t tallied all of its absentee ballots.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index was down 0.47 percent. European bourses closed sharply lower Friday _ London dipped 0.7 percent, Paris fell 2 percent and Frankfurt dropped 1.5 percent.
The tech-focused Nasdaq ended down 5.35 percent, at 3,029.10, according to preliminary calculations. The last time the Nasdaq finished lower was a year ago, on Nov. 3, 1999, when it closed at 3,028.51.
Other indicators also fell sharply. The Dow Jones industrial average finished down 1.70 percent at 10,602.95. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell to 1,365.99, a loss of 2.44 percent.
Puzzled about how to invest amid the political uncertainty, investors have focused on what they do know: earnings are key. They’re sticking to their pre-election pattern of selling high-tech issues whose profit outlook is poor.
The world continued to closely watch the U.S. election spectacle Friday.
In Belgrade, Yugoslavia, bemused and bewildered Serbians saw similarities with their own, far worse voting ordeals.
With memories still fresh of a series of dramatic, complicated and contested elections here in the past decade _ including the latest in September when pro-democracy forces eventually defeated autocratic leader Slobodan Milosevic _ many Serbs watched TV images of angry U.S. voters demanding a revote with astonishment.
``Look! Just like us!″ exclaimed Marko Tesanovic, a 51-year-old lab technician, saying the scenes reminded him of massive protests here triggered by Milosevic’s tampering with election results.
``Luckily, the U.S. election mess did not happen before our elections,″ media analyst Nebojsa Spaic said. ``Otherwise, Milosevic’s propaganda would have had a field day.″
Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper called for a quick, accurate and conclusive recount to avoid mounting ``anxiety″ in the rest of the world _ and avoid putting a politically weakened man into the White House.
``Call it the great American democracy at work but, for most people outside the United States watching the presidential ballot in Florida, it looked like a Third World election fiasco,″ columnist Thanong Khanthong wrote in Thailand’s Nation newspaper.