US shares rise in light trade as vote looms

US stocks advanced modestly yesterday in light trading in one of the year’s quietest sessions on the day before the US presidential election.

Whatever the outcome of the race between incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the election’s resolution will finally end the uncertainty that has kept the market stagnant for the past few weeks.

“No one’s going to make big bets today,” said Perry Piazza, director of investment strategy at Contango Capital Advisors in San Francisco.

Just 5.16bn shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, below this year's average daily volume of 6.5bn.

“[The market] has been directionless over the last few weeks because of what fiscal and tax policy looks like next year. You could argue that just having the uncertainty behind us could lead to a bit of a relief rally,” Piazza said.

Another drag on trading volume was the residual impact of Hurricane Sandy, which has left about 30,000 to 40,000 Americans homeless. The storm wreaked havoc on infrastructure and housing in the Northeast.

The Nasdaq was the strongest of the three major US stock indexes, helped by a rally in Apple. Apple’s stock rose 1.4 per cent to close at $584.62.

The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 19.28 points, or 0.15 per cent, to end at 13,112.44.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 3.06 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 1,417.26.

The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 17.53 points, or 0.59 per cent, to close at 2,999.66.