Stock Futures Mixed on Eve of Election Day

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were little changed Monday as the markets awaited Tuesday's U.S. presidential election.

Investors also will be watching a once-in-a-decade leadership shuffle in China, where the country's 18th National Party congress kicks off Thursday.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were rising 3 points, or 33.16 points below fair value, at 12,994. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 0.60 points, or 4.35 points below fair value, at 1404. Futures for the Nasdaq were down 0.25 points, or 8.83 points below fair value, at 2640.

"The U.S. economy is still operating distinctly below its potential and unemployment is right on the historical cusp of assuring any challenging party a solid victory. A loss on Tuesday for either party -- and one will certainly draw the short straw -- is going to go down very poorly indeed among the faithful and their representatives in government," commented Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx. "That's a problem for the country, because there is a lot of heavy lifting to be done in the coming months with respect to the package of tax increases and spending cuts known as the Fiscal Cliff."

"Markets remain transfixed by politics. With so many close races in the U.S., the threat of multiple hanging chad counts might delay the election result beyond Tuesday. Some states like Ohio are still changing the rules, which may lead to legal challenges," noted Paul Donovan, global economist at UBS.

The major U.S. equity averages finished last week's truncated trading week -- when exchanges were closed for several days because of Hurricane Sandy -- with steep losses on Friday as the October jobs report fell flat ahead of the election.

The Institute for Supply Management is forecast by economists to say Monday that its services index fell to 54.5 in October from 55.1 in September. The report is due at 10 a.m. EST.

Overseas markets were in the red, as investors around the world anxiously awaited the outcome of the U.S. elections. The FTSE 100 in London was falling 0.62%, while the DAX in Germany was losing 0.65%, with Greece getting ready to approach parliament with a new austerity plan, a sequential increase in Spanish jobless claims last month, and the European Central Bank assessing whether it has been too generous on terms on Spanish bank loans.

Japan's Nikkei average finished down 0.48% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed down 0.47% Monday as a private study of China's services sector declined in October.

Gold for December delivery was rising $5.70 to $1,680.90 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while December crude oil contracts were up 21 cents at $85.07 a barrel.