With the government shutdown embarking on its third week and a possible debt default only two days away, stocks dropped on Tuesday in reaction to what is by all appearances a chaotic situation in Washington D.C.
The previous day’s optimism over a deal between President Obama and Congress that would at the very least avert a default on US debt until the beggining of next year had dissipated by midday as Republicans in the House of Representatives offered their own plan to counter on the one that was being worked out by the Senate. Both House and Senate proposals would lack the devastating cuts to “Obamacare” and other government spending that has become a selling point for far-right Republican politicians over the past years, but still seeks to force concessions that the White House and the Senate are almost certain to reject.
The wrangling and general atmosphere of calamity flowing out of Capitol Hill found its way onto Wall Street, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropping 0.71 percent to 1,698.06 points, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.87 percent to close at 15,168.01, and the NASDAQ was off 0.56 percent for a tally of 3,794.01.
On the S&P 500, J.C. Penney Company (JCP) took yet another hit, with shares losing nearly 9 percent by the end of trading in response to rumors that the company had hired a bankruptcy counselor, rumors that the company denied outright. Overall, the index’s biggest losers were tech shares, with substantial losses taken by hardware companies such as Teradata Corporation (TDC) , F5 Networks Inc. (FFIV) , and Eaton Corporation (ETN) .
United States Steel Corp. (X) was a bright spot, gaining over 5 percent on the day.
The Dow saw all but two of its components lower on the day, with The Home Depot Inc. (HD) leading the way down, followed by Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) . Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) and healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) managed to edge their way into the green.
On the NASDAQ, shares for Savient Pharmaceuticals (SVNT) dropped off the cliff, losing nearly 90 percent to finish at $0.07 each after news emerged that the specialty drug manufacturer was filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Otherwise, the exchange was weighed by tech shares, with Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) and Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) dropping on heavy trading, even though Apple Inc. (AAPL) added about half of a percent to close higher on news that the company had hired former Burberry ($BURBY) CEO Angela Ahrendts to the newly created position of senior vice president.