Asian Shares Down Ahead of US Vote

TOKYO (AP) -- Shares fell Friday in Europe and Asia as nervous investors fretted over the potential outcome of next week's nail-bitingly close U.S. presidential election. Investors also were awaiting the release of U.S. employment data.

KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX lost 0.5 percent to 10,271.01 and the CAC40 of France slipped 0.4 percent to 4,396.10. Britain's FTSE 100 sank 1 percent to 6,719.57. The outlook for trading in New York was mixed, with Dow futures down 0.04 percent and S&P 500 futures nearly flat.

PRESIDENTIAL RACE: With five days left until the election, Hillary Clinton is still leading in national polling but Donald Trump has significantly narrowed the gap, particularly in swing states. Investors like certainty, and Clinton is seen as likely to maintain the status quo. Trump's policies are less clear, and the uncertainty has caused jitters in financial markets. The VIX, a measure of volatility that is called Wall Street's "fear gauge," jumped 16 percent this week to its highest level since June. The measure is up 36 percent this week alone. "It's a pretty simple equation: uncertainty goes up, stock market goes down," said David Kelly, chief global strategist with JPMorgan Funds.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 1.3 percent to 16,905.36 and South Korea's Kospi lost 0.1 percent to 1,982.02. Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell 0.9 percent to 5,180.80. Shanghai's Composite index slipped 0.1 percent to 3,125.32 and the Sensex of India lost 0.5 percent to 27,306.14. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gave up earlier gains to fall 0.2 percent to 22,642.62. Shares in Southeast Asia were mostly lower while Taiwan's benchmark was nearly flat.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "Weak sentiment is expected to continue guiding markets. The last weekend has also shown us what a weekend could do for the US elections and with one final weekend to go before the polls close, next week's open could be anybody's guess," Jingyi Pan, a market strategist for IG, said in a commentary.

CURRENCIES: The dollar was trading at 103.04, up from 103.00 on Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1105 from $1.1103.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 23 cents to $44.43 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It slipped 68 cents to $44.66 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, declined 16 cents at $46.19. It fell 51 cents at $46.35 a barrel in London.

(KA)