Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Stocks End Week Lower As Govt. Shutdown Deadline Approaches

U.S. stock indexes fell on Friday as the September 30 deadline for an emergency budget deal in Washington to avoid a Government shutdown loomed ever closer.

So near, yet so far apart -- can politicians in Washington reach across the aisle and shake hands on budget and debt deals to avoid partial shutdown of the U.S. Government?

While most Wall Street analysts still expect the usual last-minute deal to avoid the shutdown at midnight on Monday, time is running out.

An unusual weekend vote in the House is even possible. A major sticking point is Republican opposition to the funding of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's health care reform.

President Obama has urged Congress to meet two deadlines in the coming days and weeks. First it must pass a short-term budget by midnight on Monday (September 30) to keep the government open.

Then, Congress must also agree to raise the United States' $16.7 trillion debt ceiling — by October 17 at the latest — so America can pay its bills and avoid a default.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has warned the politicians that the United States will exhaust its current borrowing limit no later than October 17, when it would have only $30 billion cash on hand.

Even though investors and traders have been through Washington soap operas before, the uncertainty over funding of the Government is never good for market sentiment.

But it was more company-specific issues that affected many stock prices on the day.

United Continental Holdings fell about 9.3% after reports the airline cut its third-quarter forecast for an important revenue number.

J.C. Penney dropped about 13% as the retailer began selling shares to raise up to $932 million.

Accenture fell about 2.35% after reports the consulting services company forecast revenue below analysts' estimates.

Slot machine company International Game Technology fell about 7% after an analyst's downgrade on the stock.

Nike shares, though, rose about 4.7% a day after it reported strong quarterly earnings.

On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.46% to 15,258.20. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped about 0.41% to 1,691.75. The Nasdaq edged lower about 0.15% to 3,781.59.

For the week, the S&P 500 fell 1.1%, the Dow was down 1.3%, but the Nasdaq was up 0.2%.

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