Continuing Government Shutdown, Impasse Over Debt Ceiling Keep Investors Guessing; FOMC Minutes Awaited

 
on October 08 2013 5:37 AM

U.S. stock index futures suggest a mixed opening to markets on Tuesday, as investors struggle to shrug off concerns over a prolonged government shutdown and a looming debt ceiling deadline.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.05 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were flat and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.05 percent.

With the partial government shutdown having entered its second week, there are still no signs of reconciliation between Republicans and Democrats in Congress over the national budget and the debt ceiling limit before the Oct.17 deadline. However, some economists seem to have chosen to look at a silver lining in the impasse.

“It may sound perverse, but the longer the government remains dark, the better. We believe the longer the bickering/negotiating (depends who you ask) lasts, the greater the likelihood both the shutdown and debt ceiling issues get resolved. Letting lawmakers hash out their differences under a relatively benign government shutdown creates an opportunity for a quicker resolution on the looming debt ceiling crisis,” Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a research note, according to MarketWatch.

Others argue that a prolonged government shutdown would reduce the probability of the U.S. Federal Reserve beginning to wind down its massive monthly asset-purchase program by the end of the year, as originally feared. Indeed, all key economic data releases -- something the Fed ostensibly would rely on to take a call on the future of its stimulus program -- scheduled for last week were either cancelled or delayed due to the shutdown.

Investors are now expected to pore over the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s September meeting, in which the central bank took the surprise decision to leave its monthly bond-buying program unchanged, when they are released on Wednesday.

In Europe, markets traded lower on Tuesday despite better-than-expected trade data from Germany and France, as the ongoing crisis in the U.S. continued to hurt investor sentiment. The Stoxx Europe 600 index dropped 0.42 percent, London’s FTSE 100 was down 0.61 percent, Germany's DAX-30 was down 0.18 percent and France's CAC-40 was trading down 0.44 percent. 

In Asia, markets traded higher, with the Shanghai Composite index, which resumed operations after a week-long holiday on Tuesday, rallied to close up 1.08 percent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.89 percent. Japan’s Nikkei ended up 0.3 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.23 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI Composite index added 0.42 percent and India’s BSE Sensex was trading up 0.67 percent in late-afternoon trade.

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