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US equity futures fell and safer assets like the yen and dollar found buyers on Wednesday after a chaotic first US presidential debate turned investors cautious, though strong factory surveys gave a boost to Chinese shares, Tom Westbrook and Scott Murdoch reported for Reuters

President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden sparred over Trump’s leadership on the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and the integrity of November’s election in exchanges marked by Trump’s repeated interruptions. 

US stock futures ground higher in Asian time during the debate but then retreated after Trump cast doubt on whether he would accept the election’s outcome. S&P 500 futures were last 0.6% lower, with Dow Jones and Nasdaq 100 futures down by as much as 1%. European markets looked set to follow, with FTSE futures falling 0.4% and Euro STOXX 50 futures down 0.6%. The US dollar crept higher and is set for its best monthly gain since July 2019, while the yen rose 0.2% to 105.50 per dollar, its strongest daily rise in nearly two weeks. 

“The share market normally prefers the incumbent (president) to win,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital in Sydney. “US futures initially rose, as perhaps Trump delivered some punches, but it wasn’t enough,” he said. “Investors have gone back to worrying about a contested election, a delay in the outcome and whether Trump will go peacefully if he loses.”

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