Trump, without evidence, says illegal voting cost him U.S. popular vote

By Roberta Rampton and Dustin Volz | PALM BEACH, Fla./WASHINGTON

PALM BEACH, Fla./WASHINGTON U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that he won the popular vote in the Nov. 8 election "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally", though he provided no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

The allegation by Trump, who won the required votes in the Electoral College to secure the presidency, comes as Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's lead in the popular vote over Trump has surpassed 2.0 million votes and is expected to grow to more than 2.5 million as ballots in populous states such as California continue to be tallied.

Clinton's legal team said on Saturday it had agreed to participate in a recount of Wisconsin votes after the state's election board approved the effort requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, which Trump has called "ridiculous."

"In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," the Republican Trump tweeted as reporters waited for him to leave his Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Florida to fly back to his residence in New York City.

The U.S. presidential race is decided by the Electoral College, based on a tally of wins from the state-by-state contests, rather than by the national vote. Trump has surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. The Electoral College results are expected to be finalized on Dec. 19. Trump takes office on Jan. 20.

"It would have been much easier for me to win the so-called popular vote than in the Electoral College in that I would only campaign in 3 or 4 states instead of the 15 states that I visited," Trump added in follow-up tweets.

Several hours later, Trump tweeted, again without citing evidence: "Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California - so why isn't the media reporting on this? Serious bias - big problem!" Clinton won all three states.

A spokesman for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CRITICIZING RECOUNT EFFORT

Before the election, Trump made unsubstantiated allegations that the results of the election might be "rigged" against him but several studies have found no evidence of widespread or significant voter fraud in the United States.

Since the vote, his message has alternated between appealing for unity and railing against his opponents and the media.

In a video message released ahead of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, Trump said he hoped it would be a time for Americans "to begin to heal our divisions" following a "long and bruising political campaign."

In a tweet on Saturday, Trump derided the fundraising effort by Stein to launch recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania as a "scam" that is "is now being joined by the badly defeated and demoralized Dems."

Those states had voted Democratic in recent presidential elections but all voted narrowly in favor of the Republican Trump in this month's election. The recounts are not expected to change the results of the election.

Stein, who won about 1.0 percent of the national vote, has said she wants a recount to guarantee the integrity of the U.S. voting system, a push that came after some computer scientists and election lawyers raised the possibility that hacks could have affected the results.

Democratic President Barack Obama's administration has said there is no evidence of electoral tampering, but experts have said that the only way to verify the results are accurate is to conduct a recount.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Dustin Volz; Writing by Peter Cooney; Editing by Clive McKeef)

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Investment focus: Is this the 'Great Rotation'? Some banks think so

By Dhara Ranasinghe and Vikram Subhedar | LONDON

LONDON After a number of false starts since the term was first coined five years ago, the idea of a 'Great Rotation' out of bonds into stocks is again gaining traction.

Almost $2 trillion has been wiped off the value of global bonds since Donald Trump was elected as the next U.S. president on Nov. 8, sparking a reassessment of growth and inflation views. In contrast, U.S. stocks have hit record highs.

According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the week to Nov. 16 saw the biggest equity inflows in two years at $28 billion and the biggest bond outflows in 3-1/2 years at $18 billion -- the widest weekly disparity between stock and bond flows ever.

Whether this marks the start of a 'Great Rotation,' a phrase first used by Bank of America in 2011, remains to be seen but there are two reasons why this time it could be the real thing.

For starters, say analysts, a tighter U.S. jobs market and signs of stronger economic growth suggest inflation risks are rising.

Second, for the first time since the financial crisis there is a shift toward fiscal expansion -- highlighted by the economic policies favored by Trump and by Britain's budget statement this week that unveiled a $29 billion fund for infrastructure projects.

That change implies higher borrowing by governments and another source of inflationary pressures that support a view that an era of ultra-low yielding bonds may be in the past.

The only caveat is that this notion of investors shifting their hundreds of billions invested in bonds into stocks as a three-decade bond bull run comes to an end, propelling equity markets higher, has had several false starts before.

"I've been asked this question many times before - about whether we're seeing a great rotation," said Luca Paolini, Pictet Asset Management's chief strategist. "We now see some significant inflation risks that were non-existent before. This is what's different."

In Germany, signs of a pick-up in inflation pushed yields sharply higher from record lows between late April and June last year - only to fall back as data suggested the region continued to battle with deflationary pressures.

U.S. 10-year bond yields rose more than 100 basis points during the so-called "taper tantrum" of 2013 as investors positioned for a scaling back of U.S. monetary stimulus. They subsequently fell back too, hitting record lows earlier this year, helped by a perception that any Federal Reserve monetary tightening would be glacial to support growth.

A Fed rate hike next month, widely expected, would mark the first increase in a year.

TURNING POINT?

But as inflation expectations are overhauled so are perceptions about the rate outlook - money markets are starting to price in one or more Federal Reserve rate hikes next year, a sea change from before the election when they priced in a less than 50 percent chance of a 2017 Fed hike.

It's against this backdrop that early indicators of a rotation can be seen.

JPMorgan notes that over the past week, a record inflow into U.S. equity exchange traded funds (ETFs) was accompanied by a record outflow from bond ETFs.

Within equity markets a sharp rotation out of so-called "bond proxies" – dividend-paying sectors such as utilities, telecoms and healthcare which are favored by investors for their yield – and into more cyclical sectors such as banks, industrials and commodities-related sectors is already underway.

The fading allure of dividends could be a precursor to a broader asset-class switch out of bonds and into stocks, which are more geared to economic growth and an inflation pick-up.

This trend has taken hold across global equity markets. Basic resources and energy are now the best performing equity sectors within the MSCI all-country World indices .MIWD00000PUS, both up about a fifth this year. Healthcare, utilities and food and beverage stocks are the biggest laggards and the only three in the red for 2016.

"It's too early to tell but this is the best chance I've seen in a long time," said Michael Antonelli, an institutional sales trader at R W Baird & Co, referring to a great rotation.

"Money chases performance and it is thus and ever shall be so we need equity funds to start knocking the cover off the ball," he added, alluding to an opportunity for equity funds to make strong gains.

One sign that a great rotation is taking hold is if investors continue to offload bonds on a large scale.

"We know in general that a lot of capital has gone into fixed income, so how investors react to this sell-off is really important," said Michael Metcalfe, head of macro strategy at State Street Global Markets. "If they capitulate, they will drive the next leg of it clearly."

TEPID ROTATION?

Any rotation is likely to be driven by the United States, where bonds have seen some of the steepest selling in years. In Europe and Japan, still subdued inflation and ultra-loose monetary policy is expected to provide some support to bonds.

Rising political risks in the euro area such as in Italy also suggest demand for safe-haven German bonds remains firm, with two-year yields hitting record lows on Friday at minus 0.75 percent.

Long-term investors such as pension funds, hurt by an era of negative bond yields, are also likely to welcome any sell-off to lock in yields at higher levels.

"Against that you could have someone like a retail investor not wanting to own fixed income. So really the idea of a great rotation will depend on who that marginal buyer or seller of fixed income is," said Nick Gartside, chief investment officer for fixed income at JP Morgan Asset Management."

(Graphic by Nigel Stephenson; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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Wall St. pulls back from record; utilities slump

By Chuck Mikolajczak | NEW YORK

NEW YORK U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday as investors engaged in profit-taking to pull major indexes from record levels, while the trend of modest moves and low volume continued heading into the final trading day of the year.

The day's losses were broad, with each of the ten primary S&P 500 sectors in negative territory. Utilities .SPLRCU - 2014's best sector performer - led the decline with a drop of 2.1 percent.

Equities have enjoyed a solid rally of late, buoyed by strong economic data and the U.S. Federal Reserve's commitment to be "patient" about raising interest rates. The S&P 500 gained nearly 6 percent over the prior eight sessions and managed to score its 53rd record close of the year on Monday.

The speed and scale of the rally provided incentive to take profits, and amplified volatility is possible this week with many market participants out for the holiday, which dampens volume. The stock market will be closed on Thursday for the New Year's holiday.

"It wasn’t going to take much to prompt the decline, it’s probably more resting than anything else. We’ve had a pretty significant move higher," said Stephen Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Equity Management LLC in San Francisco.

"We’ve marched straight up from 1,970 or so to about 2,100 so it’s only natural that we are going to get a little bit of a pullback here."

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 55.16 points, or 0.31 percent, to 17,983.07, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 10.22 points, or 0.49 percent, to 2,080.35 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 29.47 points, or 0.61 percent, to 4,777.44.

In the latest economic data, consumer confidence rose slightly less than expected in December, while U.S. single-family home price appreciation slowed less than forecast in October.

NeuroDerm Ltd (NDRM.O) soared more than 193 percent to $18.14 on heavy volume after it said data from a mid-stage study suggested that a higher dose of its Parkinson's drug could provide an alternative to treatments that require surgery.

Civeo Corp (CVEO.N), which provides temporary housing for oilfield workers and miners, late Monday slashed its workforce and forecast revenue could fall by one-third as slumping crude prices force oil producers to cut costs. The stock plunged 52.6 percent to $3.92 on volume of about 56.2 million shares, the most active day in its history.

Volume was light, with about 4.42 billion shares traded on U.S. exchanges, well below the 7.06 billion average so far this month, according to data from BATS Global Markets.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,806 to 1,262, for a 1.43-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,671 issues fell and 1,031 advanced for a 1.62-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The benchmark S&P 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and 6 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 107 new highs and 39 new lows.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Trump, without evidence, says illegal voting cost him U.S. popular vote

By Roberta Rampton and Dustin Volz | PALM BEACH, Fla./WASHINGTON

PALM BEACH, Fla./WASHINGTON U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that he won the popular vote in the Nov. 8 election "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally", though he provided no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

The allegation by Trump, who won the required votes in the Electoral College to secure the presidency, comes as Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's lead in the popular vote over Trump has surpassed 2.0 million votes and is expected to grow to more than 2.5 million as ballots in populous states such as California continue to be tallied.

Clinton's legal team said on Saturday it had agreed to participate in a recount of Wisconsin votes after the state's election board approved the effort requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, which Trump has called "ridiculous."

"In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," the Republican Trump tweeted as reporters waited for him to leave his Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Florida to fly back to his residence in New York City.

The U.S. presidential race is decided by the Electoral College, based on a tally of wins from the state-by-state contests, rather than by the national vote. Trump has surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. The Electoral College results are expected to be finalized on Dec. 19. Trump takes office on Jan. 20.

"It would have been much easier for me to win the so-called popular vote than in the Electoral College in that I would only campaign in 3 or 4 states instead of the 15 states that I visited," Trump added in follow-up tweets.

Several hours later, Trump tweeted, again without citing evidence: "Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California - so why isn't the media reporting on this? Serious bias - big problem!" Clinton won all three states.

A spokesman for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CRITICIZING RECOUNT EFFORT

Before the election, Trump made unsubstantiated allegations that the results of the election might be "rigged" against him but several studies have found no evidence of widespread or significant voter fraud in the United States.

Since the vote, his message has alternated between appealing for unity and railing against his opponents and the media.

In a video message released ahead of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, Trump said he hoped it would be a time for Americans "to begin to heal our divisions" following a "long and bruising political campaign."

In a tweet on Saturday, Trump derided the fundraising effort by Stein to launch recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania as a "scam" that is "is now being joined by the badly defeated and demoralized Dems."

Those states had voted Democratic in recent presidential elections but all voted narrowly in favor of the Republican Trump in this month's election. The recounts are not expected to change the results of the election.

Stein, who won about 1.0 percent of the national vote, has said she wants a recount to guarantee the integrity of the U.S. voting system, a push that came after some computer scientists and election lawyers raised the possibility that hacks could have affected the results.

Democratic President Barack Obama's administration has said there is no evidence of electoral tampering, but experts have said that the only way to verify the results are accurate is to conduct a recount.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Dustin Volz; Writing by Peter Cooney; Editing by Clive McKeef)

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One ticket has winning numbers in $421 million Powerball lottery

A lottery ticket sold in Tennessee had the winning numbers for a $421 million Powerball jackpot, one of the biggest on record, officials said after Saturday's draw.

The winning numbers selected were 17, 19, 21, 37, 44, with the Powerball 16. No one as yet had stepped forward to claim the prize, which grew in size since Sept. 17, the last time anyone matched all six numbers.

The jackpot soared from $403 million to a reported $420.9 million on Saturday due to a spate of late ticket-buying.

The prize is paid out over 30 years, with the option of a lump sum payment, which officials said would add up to about $254.7 million.

The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292 million.

The largest ever U.S. lottery prize of $1.6 billion was split between three winning tickets in January.

Powerball, one of several games run by the Multi-State Lottery Association, a non-profit owned and operated by member states' lotteries, is played in 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Players can either buy $2 tickets using their own numbers or have them randomly generated by a computer.

The Mega Millions lottery, also offered by the association, produced the country's second-largest-ever prize, worth $656 million, in a 2012 drawing.

For every $1 worth of Powerball sales, half goes to prizes, 40 percent to state governments for causes such as education, and 10 percent to retailers who sell the tickets and other administrative costs.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Jacqueline Wong)

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