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US: Stocks fall as market mulls possible Trump win

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks fell Tuesday as a new poll suggested Republican candidate Donald Trump could win the presidency, an outcome that has stirred anxiety in financial markets.

The share price declines sent leading equity indices to their lowest level since just after Britain's shock vote to exit the European Union in June.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.6 per cent to 18,037.10.

The broad-based S&P 500 declined 0.7 per cent to 2,111.72, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.7 per cent to 5,153.58.

A Clinton presidency is generally preferred by markets over Mr Trump, who is viewed as a wildcard, in part because of his harsh criticism of Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen and international trade pacts.

"The market is pricing in a somewhat reduced likelihood of a Clinton victory, but it's not down all the way to pricing in a Trump victory," said Karthik Sankaren, director global strategy of Eurasia Group.

The Federal Reserve opened a two-day monetary policy meeting Tuesday that is expected to keep interest rates low, but could signal plans to hike interest rates in December.

But analysts said the Fed was overshadowed by presidential election in market action.

The VIX volatility index, which is seen as a measure of the market's fear, briefly climbed above 20 for the first time since the Brexit period this summer, but finished at 18.35, still sharply higher than Monday.

Pfizer dropped 2 per cent as it reported a 38 per cent drop in third quarter earnings to US$1.3 billion and said it was cancelling development of an anti-cholesterol drug which had been seen as a major growth prospect.

Apple shares fell for the fifth straight day, this time by 1.8 per cent, after last week's disappointing earnings report raised worries about the company's outlook.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International surged 33.7 per cent following a report in the Wall Street Journal that it is in advanced talks to sell a major stomach-drug business to Takeda Pharmaceutical of Japan for about US$10 billion.

Women's handbag maker Coach added 2.2 per cent as earnings rose 21.8 per cent in the quarter ending Oct 1 to US$117.4 million.

L Brands, the parent company of Victoria's Secret, sank 7.9 per cent as it lowered is third-quarter profit forecast after October comparable sales came in one per cent higher.