Americans vote in historic election •Clinton, Trump optimistic of victory

Democrat presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton waves at voters as Bill Clinton casts votes. BELOW: Donald Trump and his wife Melania cast their votes.

Democrat Hillary Clinton held a narrow lead in opinion polls over Republican Donald Trump as millions of Americans turned out on Tuesday to vote for the next president after one of the most negative campaigns in United States history.

In a battle that focused on the character of the candidates, Clinton, 69, a former secretary of state, senator and first lady, and Trump, 70, a New York businessman and former reality TV star, made their final, fervent appeals to supporters late on Monday to turn out the vote.

Interestingly, both candidates are optimistic of stealing the show as observers have submitted that the election is too close to call.

Clinton led Trump, by 44 per cent to 39 per cent, in the last Reuters/Ipsos national tracking poll before Election Day.

A Reuters/Ipsos States of the Nation poll gave Clinton a 90 percent chance of defeating Trump and said she was on track to win 303 Electoral College votes out of 270 needed.

World financial markets were closely watching the outcome of election, with stocks up slightly on cautious expectations of a Clinton win. The dollar and bond yields slipped, while gold inched up. U.S. stocks had soared on Monday as investors bet on Clinton, seen as the candidate more likely to maintain the status quo.

More than 40 million voters cast ballots before Election Day in early voting around the country.

Trump and Clinton were seeking to become the 45th president of the United States and the successor to Democrat Barack Obama, who served two four-year terms in the White House and is barred by the U.S. Constitution from seeking another term.

Clinton is aiming to become the first U.S. woman president after spending eight years in the White House as first lady from 1993 to 2001 before serving as a U.S. senator from New York and as Obama’s secretary of state.