NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
It might have taken until late Wednesday morning for John Kerry, and some media, to say that President Bush had been re-elected. But investors had already declared the president a winner hours earlier.
Overnight stock futures jumped in early trading as Bush appeared to be close to winning Ohio's 20 electoral votes, which put him above the 270 needed for victory. And markets opened higher Wednesday and added to gains after reports just before 11:15 a.m. ET that Kerry had called Bush to concede.
There had been fears leading up to the election that an uncertain outcome could again send stocks lower as they did four years ago, when stocks fell during six weeks of election disputes in Florida. But analysts said even before Kerry's call to Bush, it appeared the uncertainty in this year's election would last only days, or maybe just hours.
"No one wants to concede right away because of what happened before, but I think it (the market) is going to charge ahead like this is a clear Bush win," said Michael Carty, stock market strategist, New Millennium Advisors.
Even when the electoral college was in some doubt, it was clear Wednesday that Bush would win a majority of the popular vote, the first candidate to do so since 1988. That margin, and the strong margin in Ohio, left little doubts for investors that a Bush victory was inevitable.
"The Red Sox won four games in a row after being down three nothing, so anything is possible,but I think the markets would perceive this as a long shot," said political economist Greg Valliere, chief strategist of Charles Schwab Washington Research. "I think at some point today (Wednesday) Kerry and his people get together and decide they don't want to be perceived as sore losers."
Valliere said that one of the keys for the market reaction is the gains by Republicans in Congress, especially being poised to see their Senate majority rise to 55 out of 100 members. That's a bigger and more pleasant surprise to the market than the Bush victory, said Valliere.
"The markets wanted to be assured the 15 percent dividend tax rate and the 15 percent capital gains tax would be maintained. Now, no question about it," he said.
More tax cuts? Maybe not
But Valliere said even with the Republican gains, it's too soon to predict a new round of tax cuts.
"I think there's a lot of Republicans who might not be compliant on any further tax cuts," he said. "The bigger issue is we won't undo past cuts."
Valliere and Carty also don't think the Republicans have gained enough strength in the Senate to bring about even partial privatization of Social Security, which would also be a boon for the financial sector stocks. But both think those stocks will be among the leaders in the Bush re-election rally, simply because the outcome of the election is less uncertain than it was four years ago.
"Markets tend to be very uneasy during the election year," said Carty. "One of the problems is that no one wanted to make a big commitment without knowing who was going to be at the helm."
Oil prices have been one factor weighing on U.S. equity markets in recent months, and oil prices jumped as Bush's victory became more likely overnight -- although they retreated in the morning after a strong inventory report.
"The feeling was that Kerry might have tried to stop the restocking of the strategic petroleum reserve, and might have sold off reserves if oil got above $50," said oil analyst Peter Beutel, president of Cameron Hanover.
"The election means we'll continue to keep buying oil for the SPR," he added. "It also means events in Iraq are likely to continue the way they have."
The Republican gains in the Senate could make it more likely that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska could be opened for oil exploration. But Beutel said that would only be a long-term addition to the supply of oil and is not likely to affect current futures trading.