As stock traders begin a new week, they'll be trying to focus on something other than the budget battle in Washington, but the possibility of a government shutdown and a potential default won't be far from their mind. They showed how skittish they are on Friday when a late afternoon stock market sell-off wiped out most of the gains from a rally earlier in the week. Based on futures trading, Will Street appears on track for a higher opening to start the week.
- International stock markets edged up today after a survey showed manufacturing in the world's No.2 economy rose to a six-month high last month. Benchmark crude oil fell but remains above $104 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.
- Investors will be looking beyond the U.S. today. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is briefing EU lawmakers in Brussels. He's talking about monetary policies and the bloc's economic situation. Meanwhile in Hong Kong, HSBC's preliminary version of its purchasing manager's index is encouraging. It's an early indicator of the strength of China's manufacturing sector. The preliminary version climbed to 51.2 from 50.1 in August. Numbers above 50 indicate an expansion.
- Microsoft Corp. is expected to announce new Surface tablet computers today, including a version with a smaller screen to compete with Google's Nexus 7 and Apple's iPad Mini. It comes about a month before Microsoft releases an update to its Windows 8 operating system on Oct. 17. Among other things, Windows 8.1 will be usable on smaller touch screens, which have become popular because they are cheaper and easier to carry.
- A closely-watched survey suggests that economic growth across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro is picking up and that employment is stabilizing. The composite purchasing managers' index - a gauge of business activity across the manufacturing and services sector published by financial information company Markit - rose to a 27-month high of 52.1 in September from 51.5 in August. That's above the 50 threshold that indicates expansion.