Investors are becoming increasingly nervous about a protracted U.S. government shutdown. And they're not just in the United States. On Wall Street yesterday, the Dow dropped 58 points. The S&P 500 fell a point and the Nasdaq ended down 3 points. According to futures trading, Wall Street appears poised for losses at this morning's opening.
- Asian stock markets moved ahead today, withstanding some of the gloom seeping into other financial markets as the partial shutdown of the U.S. government dragged on for a third day. European stocks were mixed in early trading. After a $2.06 jump yesterday, benchmark crude oil fell below $104 per barrel. The dollar gained against the yen and fell against the euro.
- As investors look for signs of progress in the battle over spending that's led to a partial government shutdown, they'll also be closely watching the latest unemployment claims number from the Labor Department. Also scheduled for release today are the weekly mortgage rate report from Freddie Mac and the Institute for Supply Management's service sector index for September.
- Americans, who're increasingly optimistic about improving economic conditions, are expected to spend at a more rapid clip during the upcoming holiday shopping season than they did last year -- but a lot hinges on how long the partial government shutdown lasts. The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group, is expected to release a forecast today that sales in November and December will rise 3.9 percent, compared to 3.5 percent a year ago.
- Another round of eurozone economic data today looks promising. Particularly encouraging was the news that retail sales across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro rose by a forecast-busting 0.7 percent in August, according to Eurostat, the EU's statistics office. It's seen as compelling evidence that the currency bloc's recovery from recession has become broad-based and self-sustaining.