Stocks are lower in afternoon trading as investors focus on the risk of a U.S. government shutdown down next week. The uncertainty has pushed stocks down all week. The Dow was down about 85 points in afternoon trading, while the S&P and the Nasdaq were each off about 8 points.
- The Senate has blocked an effort to strip money from the president's health care law and approved legislation aimed at preventing a government shutdown. However, the 54-44 vote does not end the budget drama. It remains unclear whether the Democratic-led Senate and the Republican-run House will be able to craft a compromise and get it to President Barack Obama for his signature before the government has to tell hundreds of thousands of federal workers to stay home next Tuesday.
- If Congress fails to agree on a temporary spending bill before Tuesday, 800,000 of the nation's 2.1 million federal workers would be furloughed. That would force the closure of national parks across the country and the Smithsonian museums in the nation's capital. And State Department workers wouldn't be around to process visa and passport applications.
- The Federal Housing Administration needs a bailout. FHA Commissioner Carol Galante has told Congress that her agency will withdraw $1.7 billion from the Treasury to cover projected losses in reverse mortgage programs for seniors. The FHA suffered big losses when many borrowers 62 or older took large payments up front and later ran into financial problems, often due to falling home values during the financial crisis.
- The Food and Drug Administration is putting its harshest warning on an antibiotic made by Pfizer. The FDA says the antibiotic Tygacil is associated with an increased risk of death and should only be used in situations when other treatments aren't suitable. The drug is approved as a treatment for complicated skin and skin structure infections and community-acquired bacterial pneumonia. The risk was greatest in patients with ventilator-associated pneumonia, for which Tygacil hasn't been approved.
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