What if Wall St. wakes Wednesday without a winner?

Associated Press Modified: November 4, 2012 at 12:15 pm •  Published: November 4, 2012
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Getting the election out of the way is the first step toward resolving the issue. For many investors, backing Obama or Romney matters less than knowing which direction the country will take.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index has fallen 3.5 percent since reaching its highest point in almost five years in September, in large part because companies lowered their revenue expectations for the rest of the year.

In the meantime, investors have tried to decide which industries would benefit from a victory for which candidate.

A Romney victory would favor financial stocks because investment taxes would be more "investor-friendly" than they would under an Obama administration, Ablin says. Financial stocks typically pay higher dividends than companies in other sectors such as technology, for example, where cash is invested for growth.

Obama has proposed raising the tax on capital gains to 20 percent from 15 percent for high-earners and leaving it at 15 percent for everyone else. Romney wants a 15 percent rate for high-earners and no tax for everyone else.

Obama would tax high-earners' dividends as ordinary income, a sizable increase for most people. As with capital gains, Romney would maintain the 15 percent rate for richer people and eliminate the tax for people who make less.

Defense stocks would also likely benefit from having the Republican as commander-in-chief because he has pledged to increase military spending, while Obama has proposed to limit the growth of defense spending.

Infrastructure and engineering companies would likely fare better after an Obama victory, while oil companies would do better under Romney, says Forrest at Fort Pitt Capital.

Bill Stone, chief investment officer at PNC Wealth Management in Philadelphia, says that regardless of the election, signs from the housing market to auto sales encourage him that companies will remain profitable and that stocks are an attractive investment, especially given low returns on other assets.

The dividend yield of the S&P 500 is about 2.2 percent, compared with a yield Friday of 1.72 percent for U.S. 10-year Treasury notes. The ratio of stock prices to earnings for the index is currently 13.7 below the 10-year average of 15.2.