U.S. stock futures rose in overnight trading on Tuesday as the U.S. midterm elections played out just as investors expected with the Democrats winning back the House of Representatives and splitting Congress.
Investors believe the Washington gridlock scenario will be best for the market, allowing President Donald Trump's business friendly policies to continue, but keeping a check on some of his more disruptive market actions like the trade battle with China. History has also pointed to strong returns for equity markets when Congress is divided.
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 76 points as of 11:41 p.m. ET. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures were also higher. The Dow was up 3.7 percent for the year through Tuesday. Relief that Republicans held onto the Senate also helped futures as some investors feared a so-called blue wave clamping down on Trump's business-friendly agenda.
NBC News was projecting the Democrats would win control of the House of Representatives. NBC News also projected the GOP would maintain control of the Senate.
Futures fell initially as Democrats took their first seat back in the House and fears of a possible "blue wave" increased. Virginia state Sen. Jennifer Wexton defeated Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock, according to NBC News projections.
But then stock futures then rebounded as more results started to come in.
"The pollsters were correct. The markets went into this, given the close, expecting this outcome," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. "Now the market is trying to figure out which sectors will do better."
Equities in the U.S. closed higher on Tuesday as the elections began earlier in the day.
Defense stocks are among the expected winners from a divided Congress as it is one of the areas Democrats and Trump may find common ground. Democrats agreed to a Defense Department budget increase for fiscal year 2019.
Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR, said financials could lose out as the Democrats take control of the House. "In terms of the financials, they might need a bit more deregulation and that is harder to promote under a split Congress," he said.
Overall, stocks typically do well when Congress is split and the White House is under Republican control. In those instances, the S&P 500 averages an annual return of 12 percent, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "The best case scenario from here, in our view, might be gridlock: do nothing, and undo nothing," wrote Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts and economists in a report leading up to the election.
These results could also lead to more investigations into Trump, however.
But regardless of how the elections shake out, this is the best buying opportunity for investors before year-end, said Phil Blancato, CEO of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management.
"This is your entry point," he said, adding that positive seasonal factors, including strong holiday sales, should boost markets higher before the end of 2018. "You might get some volatility in the next couple of days as the market absorbs the result, but you buy those dips. ... Everything is telling you this is the time to buy" following the correction in October.