World stocks wallowed near a four-month low as U.S. election uncertainty knocked the dollar, and futures pointed to the longest losing streak for the S&P 500 since the 2008 financial crisis.
Investors were unsettled by media reports that some agents at the FBI had wanted to press ahead with an investigation of the Clinton Foundation, the latest twist in a long-running investigation into Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
Investors generally view Clinton as a known quantity, but there is deep uncertainty about what a win for Republican Donald Trump -- who is closing the gap in some polls -- might mean for U.S. economic policy, free trade and geopolitics.
The volatility index, also known as markets' fear gauge, rose for an eighth straight day for its longest streak in three years, and is just one day from a record run.
"We are not quite at the point where we need to think about canned food and underground wood bunkers."
The dollar slipped 0.4 percent to 102.83 yen, while the euro edged up 0.1 percent to $1.1098 .
The dollar also added 0.4 percent on the Mexican peso, which acts as something of a proxy for investor angst over the risk of a Trump victory. Trump's positions on Mexican migration and trade could severely disadvantage the United States' southern neighbor if he wins.
Sovereign bonds and the Swiss franc were also in favor, and even the prospect of a December rate increase from the Federal Reserve could not steady the dollar.
"We are not quite at the point where we need to think about canned food and underground wood bunkers, but we are being schooled in understanding the dynamics politics plays on financial markets," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at broker IG Research.
"Despite all the thoughts about central bank policy changes, improving inflation trends and ever-changing economics, politics dominates markets above all else."
Futures pointed to a slightly lower open for the S&P 500, which has already chalked up its longest losing streak in five years and is just one more session away from its worst run since 2008.
Asian shares lost some ground overnight while better-than-expected earnings results lifted European stock markets slightly. The broader picture though was weak, with the MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 46 countries, languishing close to a four-month month.
Tokyo was on holiday, which was likely just as well as the Nikkei would have been hurt by the rising yen.
Politics also overshadowed the Fed's November policy meeting where it kept rates steady as expected and opened the door a little wider to a rate rise next month.