J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE: JCP) shares jumped early on Tuesday after the retailer released a report showing September same-store sales improvement over August. Reuters

Wall Street was flat in mid-day trading Tuesday, as investors continue to weigh the U.S. government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling deadline on Oct. 17.

With no economic data on tap from the government due to the shutdown, investors will look to this week’s third-quarter earnings reports from Alcoa and news from companies such as J.C. Penney and Talisman Energy.

Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) is scheduled to post quarterly results after the market closes on Tuesday, and Wall Street forecasts the aluminum producer to report fiscal third-quarter earnings of 9 cents on revenue of $5.7 billion, according to analysts polled by Reuters. The quarterly estimate compares with a loss of 13 cents a share on revenue of $5.8 billion a year earlier.

Shares of Alcoa are currently trading around $7.92.

In retail news, J.C. Penney Company Inc. (NYSE: JCP) shares soared as much as 8 percent in premarket trade and was up nearly 4 percent at the open on Tuesday after the troubled retailer said September same-store sales improved over August. Although comparable stores for September fell 4 percent year-over-year, the monthly sales were up 580 basis points over its August figures. In addition, the retailer announced its year-end liquidity is now expected to be more than $2 billion.

On Tuesday, shares of J.C. Penney jumped 4.02 percent to $8.02.

Talisman Energy Inc. (NYSE: TLM) shares continued to jump on Tuesday after activist investor Carl Icahn tweeted on Monday he has accumulated a nearly 6 percent stake in the Canadian oil and gas company. The billionaire investor announced on Twitter that he holds 61 million shares in Talisman, making him the company's largest shareholder.

Shares of Talisman Energy gained 6.5 percent to $13.58 before the opening bell on Tuesday morning, and the stock fell 1.33 percent to $12.58 in mid-day trade.

On the economic calendar, Federal Reserve officials Sandra Pianalto and Charles Plosser are scheduled to speak at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 82.76 points or 0.55 percent, to 14,853.48. The S&P 500 lost 12.10 points or 0.72 percent, to 1,664.13. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 57.00 points or 1.51 percent, to 3,713.27.