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Trump edges closer to White House win, rattles world markets
[WASHINGTON] US Republican Donald Trump edged closer to winning the White House with a series of shocking wins in battleground states such as Florida and Ohio on Tuesday, rattling world markets that had counted on Democrat Hillary Clinton defeating the political outsider.
With investors worried a Trump victory could cause economic and global uncertainty, investors fled risky assets such as stocks.
In overnight trading, S&P 500 index futures fell 5 per cent to hit their so-called limit down levels, indicating they would not be permitted to trade any lower until day-side trading resumed on Wednesday morning.
Mexico's peso plunged to its lowest-ever levels as Mr Trump's chances of winning the presidency increased.
Concerns of a Trump victory have weighed heavily on the peso for months because of his threats to rip up a free trade agreement with Mexico and tax money sent home by migrants to pay to build a wall on the southern US border.
Mr Trump surged to wins in Florida, Ohio, Iowa and North Carolina, and Fox News projected a win for him in Wisconsin.
With voting completed in 49 of the 50 US states, he also narrowly led in Michigan and New Hampshire, edging him closer to 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the state-by-state fight for the White House.
Shortly after Fox called Wisconsin for Mr Trump, supporters at his election evening rally in New York began to chant "lock her up" - a common refrain on the campaign trail for the former US secretary of state repeatedly dubbed "Crooked Hillary" by the volatile Trump.
A packed crowd in the lobby of Mr Trump's new hotel in Washington DC chanted "lock her up" and "USA, USA, USA" as state after state was called for Trump.
Mrs Clinton still had ways to reach 270 electoral votes, but she would have to sweep the remaining battleground states including Pennsylvania, Michigan and pull off an upset win in Arizona.
As of 12.25am EST (0525 GMT on Wednesday), Mr Trump had 244 electoral votes to Mrs Clinton's 215, with US television networks projecting the winner in 42 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Mr Trump captured conservative states in the South and Midwest, while Mrs Clinton swept several states on the East Coast and Illinois in the Midwest. Mrs Clinton won Nevada and Virginia.
At 8.55pm EST (0155 GMT on Wednesday), Mrs Clinton, 69, acknowledged a battle that was unexpectedly tight given her edge in opinion polls going into Election Day.
She tweeted: "This team has so much to be proud of. Whatever happens tonight, thank you for everything."
A wealthy real-estate developer and former reality TV host, the 70-year-old Trump rode a wave of anger toward Washington insiders to challenge Mrs Clinton, whose gold-plated establishment resume includes stints as a first lady, US senator and secretary of state.
Both candidates had historically low popularity ratings, although Mr Trump's were worse than Mrs Clinton's, in an election that many voters characterised as a choice between two unpleasant alternatives.
Before Tuesday's voting, Mrs Clinton led Mr Trump, 44 per cent to 39 per cent in the last Reuters/Ipsos national tracking poll. A Reuters/Ipsos States of the Nation poll gave her a 90 per cent chance of defeating Trump and becoming the first woman elected US president.
Also at stake on Tuesday was control of the US Congress.
Republicans will maintain their six-year control over the House of Representatives, major TV networks projected, and were on track to defend their Senate majority, as well, against a handful of failed Democratic challengers.
Republican control of Congress would give the party a strong chance of enacting much of Trump's agenda, if he won the presidency.
In a presidential campaign that focused more on the character of the candidates than on policy, Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump accused each other of being fundamentally unfit to lead the country.
Mr Trump entered the race 17 months ago and defeated a field of some 16 rival Republican candidates in the primary contests to win his party's presidential nomination.
He survived a series of seemingly crippling blows, many of them self-inflicted, including the emergence in October of a 2005 video in which he boasted about making unwanted sexual advances on women. He apologised but within days, several women emerged to say he had groped them, allegations he denied.
He was judged the loser of all three presidential debates with Mrs Clinton and she led him by varying margins for months in opinion polls.
Mr Trump won avid support among a core base of white non-college educated workers with his promise to be the"greatest jobs president that God ever created."
He has vowed to impose a 35 per cent tariff on goods exported to the United States by US companies that went abroad.
His volatile nature and unorthodox proposals led to campaign feuds with a long list of people, including Muslims, the disabled, Republican US Senator John McCain, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, the family of a slain Muslim-American soldier, a Miss Universe winner and a federal judge of Mexican heritage.