US Stock Futures Point To Lower Open As Investors Worry About Likely Government Shutdown

 
on September 30 2013 6:17 AM

U.S. stock futures point to a significantly lower open on Monday amid increasing concerns about a possible government shutdown next Tuesday. A political crisis in Italy, slowing inflation in Europe and a weaker-than-expected manufacturing sector in China could impact the markets.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.84 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.75 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were down 0.67 percent.

Investors will likely focus their attention on developments in Washington as a government shutdown -- for the first time in the past 17 years -- could take place on Oct. 1, if the Senate and the Congress fail to reach an agreement over the latest federal budget.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives early on Sunday passed a measure to allow short-term government funding that would postpone the shutdown, but only at the cost of a one-year delay to President Barack Obama's health care law, popularly known as Obamacare. The Democrat-controlled Senate, which is now required to approve the measure if it's to become law, announced it won't do so.

A failure to renew the federal government’s spending authority by Tuesday morning could result in a partial government slowdown and adversely affect the world’s largest economy, which is gradually getting back on its feet.

“A shutdown this week could alter the release date of the U.S. Employment Report for September, which is currently scheduled for Friday,” Jessica Hinds, an economist with Capital Economics, wrote in a research note.

Further, even if an agreement over the federal spending authority is reached, investors would still worry about the debt ceiling crisis.

“The debt ceiling must be raised before the Treasury runs out of money some time shortly after the 17th of October. This could mean that holders of Treasury notes and bonds won’t receive their coupon payments,” Hinds said.

Investors are also expected to focus on the Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index, which determines the economic health of the manufacturing sector in the Chicago region, and is expected to show a reading of 54 points in September, up from 53 points recorded in the previous month.

In Europe, markets traded lower on Monday, as a host of issues including a possible government shutdown in the U.S., lower-than-expected inflation in the 17-nation euro zone, and a political crisis in Italy that could lead to fresh elections, weighed on market sentiment.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index lost 0.66 percent, London’s FTSE 100 was down 0.83 percent, Germany's DAX-30 was down 0.88 percent and France's CAC-40 was trading down 1.16 percent.  

Data released on Tuesday showed that annual inflation in the euro zone grew at 1.1 percent in September, compared to analysts’ estimates for the inflation growth rate to hold steady at 1.3 percent in the month.

In Asia, most markets traded lower due to concerns about political deadlock over the federal budget in the U.S. and as weak manufacturing data from China disappointed investors.

Japan’s Nikkei ended down 2.06 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 ended down 1.66 percent. In China, the Shanghai Composite index bucked the trend to end up 0.68 percent, as the opening of a brand new free-trade zone in the region offset weak economic performance. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 1.49 percent.

South Korea’s Kospi Composite index fell 0.74 percent and India’s BSE Sensex was trading down 1.76 percent in late-afternoon trading. 

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