FirstFT: Today’s top stories | Financial Times

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Donald Trump called for vote counting to be halted in several swing states as the US waited for results from a handful of battlegrounds that will decide the presidential election.

As of Thursday, Democratic challenger Joe Biden was within six electoral college votes of victory while Mr Trump’s thin lead in two swing states, Georgia and Pennsylvania, appeared to be narrowing.

Joe Biden said he had “no doubt” his campaign had won the 2020 US presidential election, but urged the American public to “stay calm” while the remaining votes were being counted.

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign has pressed forward with a multi-state legal challenge to the results with mixed success so far. The campaign brought cases in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, and said it would do so in Nevada as well.

Authorities across the US are preparing for more protests after demonstrators took to the streets on Wednesday night in cities including Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Washington DC.

In Arizona, dozens of Trump supporters, including some carrying weapons, demonstrated outside a counting centre on Wednesday evening. Associated Press, which the Financial Times relies on for election data, and Fox News have called the state for Mr Biden, but other US networks have determined it is too close to call.

Wall Street stocks rallied and the dollar weakened as ballots continued to be counted.

Stay up to date with the FT’s results page, updated with the latest decisions and our live coverage here.

Election round-up

Trump supporters gathered in front of the Maricopa County election centre to protest against early results in Arizona that pointed to a win for Joe Biden © Reuters

Joe Biden made coronavirus a centrepiece of his campaign, but it’s become clear that voters did not overwhelmingly repudiate Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

Mr Trump’s relative weakness in the rustbelt signals that protectionist policies weren’t a political panacea for him, James Politi writes in Trade Secrets.

A Stanford University law professor found that most of Mr Trump’s legal challenges against the results appear to be “ill-founded and ill-fated”. (FT)

Mr Biden’s campaign is facing questions about what went wrong in Florida’s Latino community, for whom fears of socialism and cultural conservatism overcame outrage over the president’s insults, writes John Paul Rathbone. 

Chart showing that in key states, Trump made his biggest gains in Hispanic communities

Gig economy companies such as Uber and Lyft were given a mandate from California voters to remake labour laws across the US. It is a loss not only for workers but also for good policymaking, writes our editorial board.

Washington DC and Oregon decriminalised an ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms, a first in the country that sent shares in biotech companies higher on Wednesday. New Jersey, Arizona, Montana and South Dakota legalised recreational cannabis. (FT, BuzzFeed)

Coronavirus digest

Follow our coronavirus tracker for the latest, and find more coverage at ft.com/coronavirus.

In the news

Ant Group IPO faces six-month delay Ant Group’s initial public offering could be delayed by at least six months and its valuation sharply reduced after Beijing abruptly halted its trading debut this week, people directly involved in the deal said. Our Big Read examines why Beijing has moved to rein in Jack Ma. Alibaba, which holds a 33 per cent stake in Ant, beat third-quarterly revenue estimates on Thursday. (FT, Reuters)

Fed keeps monetary policy steady The Federal Reserve has kept monetary policy steady with interest rates at rock bottom and no changes to its bond purchases, as its top officials met with the final outcome of the US election still in doubt. (FT)

Saudi Arabia media group to make play for sports events Saudi Arabia has launched a state-controlled sports media company to manage and secure broadcasting rights in a move that will shake up the multibillion-dollar bidding wars for the right to televise elite sporting events in the Middle East. (FT)

Kosovo president resigns over war crimes indictments Hashim Thaci quit on Thursday after learning that war crimes charges against him had been confirmed by the Kosovo war crimes tribunal in The Hague. (FT)

Hashim Thaci: ‘To defend the integrity of the Kosovo presidency . . . I resign from the position of Kosovo president’ © Stringer/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

ByteDance seeks $180bn valuation TikTok’s parent company is reportedly in talks to raise $2bn, which would boost its valuation to $180bn, ahead of listing some of its businesses in Hong Kong as it simultaneously seeks to shut down a ban on TikTok in the US. (Bloomberg)

Brexit divide persists EU and UK negotiators will try to hammer out a trade deal next week, with both sides warning that very serious divergences remain. The next few days will be critical in deciding whether they really do want a deal, Peter Foster writes in our Brexit Briefing. (FT)

The days ahead

Malaysia’s PM presents first budget Prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin is set to present his first budget on Friday. It comes at a critical time for the leader who is facing an opposition challenge and dissent within his own coalition. (Reuters)

Myanmar election Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy will seek a new five-year mandate in the country’s election on November 8. She is widely expected to win. The election has been criticised as undemocratic. (FT, Economist)

Aung San Suu Kyi casts an advance vote at a polling station in Naypyidaw ahead of the November 8 general election. © AFP via Getty Images

Thai pro-democracy protests Activists in Thailand are expected on Sunday to gather to petition King Maha Vajiralongkorn after rejecting parliament’s plan to form a committee to ease the political tensions. (Straits Times)

What else we’re reading

Japan’s lessons for the world on ESG The world can learn from Japan’s practice of Gapponshugi, or ethical capitalism, writes Jim McCafferty of Nomura. For westerners focused on ESG investing, Japan provides a model for shareholders who coexist with other stakeholders. (FT)

Biden risks being lame duck The lesson from Tuesday’s record turnout and the continuing vote counts is that America is bitterly, energetically and almost evenly divided, writes Edward Luce. A President Biden would at best have an equivocal mandate. The question is what he could do with it. (FT)

China shapes a new US economic era No matter who wins the US presidency, the country is poised to bolster domestic industries deemed critical to national security and global status. It’s a bipartisan shift away from freer markets being driven by China’s ascent. (Politico)

A divided America The economy cannot fully recover until a countrywide strategy gets the virus under control. It must be Joe Biden’s first task should he enter the White House, writes former Democratic senator Heidi Heitkamp. Former Republican congressman Charlie Dent says Americans’ vote signals they want moderation. (FT)

© Ingram Pinn

Chinese censors control the celluloid world, too Like so much else in China, movies have become increasingly subject to the ever tighter grip of the Communist party under Xi Jinping, writes Henny Sender. (FT)

VW chief battles to keep electric dream alive As European governments combat a resurgent pandemic, Herbert Diess, Volkswagen chief executive, is fighting his own battle: to make the world’s largest carmaker an electric heavyweight — and ensure its electric future is a lucrative one. (FT)

Bar chart of Global electric car sales, year to Sep  (000 units)* showing VW aims to steal Tesla's crown

Ranting might well be the balm the world needs Though ranting tends to have negative connotations, mouthing off is good for us, writes Jemima Kelly. If it can bring physical and mental health benefits, maybe we should all indulge a little more — now, in the midst of a pandemic, more than ever? (FT)

Video of the day

How markets are reacting to the early results The FT’s Robert Armstrong analyses the market’s response to early results from the US election, and explains why the “blue wave” reflation trade is off the table, bank stocks are down and tech stocks are up.

Video: US election: how markets are reacting to early results | Charts that Count

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