Stocks Nudge Lower with No End to D.C. Showdown in Sight

Michael Teague |

The tense atmosphere of uncertainty resulting from a second day of government shutdown on Wednesday proved to be too much for stocks, as indices were down across the board.

After Tuesday’s surprising rally, the Standard & Poor’s 500 was down 0.07 percent by the closing bell to 1,693.87 points, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 0.39 percent to 15,133.14 points, and the NASDAQ edged down 0.08 percent to 3,815.02 points.

The partisan impasse currently forcing the federal government into skeleton crew-mode for going on two days now will cause key economic data generated by government institutions, considered “non-essential,” to be put on hold until the nation’s political system is back up and running. This has left investors with little else to go on but their own anxiety, even as the political class seems more unwilling, or unable, than ever to remedy the situation.

Economic data was not completely absent from the picture, however. The monthly private payrolls report from Automatic Processing Data (ADP) was released indicating that privately-owned US companies added 166,000 employees to the rolls during the month of September, a bit shy of the average of economists’ expectations of a gain of 180,000. The figure for August was revised down from the previous 176,000 figure to 159,000.

Basic Materials stocks were a major support to the S&P, with significant gains for The Mosaic Company (MOS) , Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (CLF) , and United States Steel (X) . Still, the index ended lower under pressure from substantial losses for companies who benefit from their work with the government, including many in the industrial goods/defense sector; United Technologies ($UTX), Raytheon Co. (RTN) , and Lockheed Martin (LMT) were all lower by the closing bell.

On the Dow, Coca-Cola (KO) and American Express (AXP) suffered the day’s largest percentage declines behind United Technologies. On the other end of the index, Microsoft (MSFT) was up about one percent after Wednesday’s news of an effort to remove founder Bill Gates from the company’s Board of Directors.

On the NASDAQ, shares of video-game maker Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) dropped after the company’s announcement that its wildly popular NCAA-themed series of sports games would be discontinued next year as a result of a lawsuit from former college athletes. Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) was over 6 percent off after a video of one of its Model S sedans in flames after a relatively small accident went viral.

 

 

[Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

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