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Stocks Inch Higher as Shutdown Weighs on Market

Stocks were inching higher in early trading Friday as the political turmoil in Washington continues to weigh on investors’ confidence.

Stock Market
Spencer Platt, Getty Images

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 31 points, or 0.2 percent, at 15,029 in the first half-hour of trading. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up five points, or 0.3 percent, at 1,683 and the Nasdaq composite index was up 18 points, or 0.5 percent, at 3,792.

Washington appears no closer to solving both the ongoing government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling deadline later this month. House Republicans have passed several small stop-gap bills to fund parts of the government, such as the National Guard, but Democrats say these bills cannot replace a complete funding of the federal government and will die in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Under more normal circumstances, investors would have the closely-watched jobs report to parse through today, the first Friday of the month. But the shutdown has forced the Labor Department to postpone the release of September’s data for at least the foreseeable future.

Parts of the bond market are starting to show stress as the Oct. 17 debt ceiling deadline nears. Yields for the one-month T-bill that mature around the time the U.S. government to hit the debt ceiling have risen to their highest level in a year. The yield on one-month T-bill was 0.14 percent, up sharply from 0.01 percent five days ago.

Bond market observers said that fund managers for money market funds, who primarily invest in these types of securities, have been selling short-term Treasuries. Fund managers don’t want to be stuck holding U.S. government debt maturing around the time the federal government hits its borrowing limit, which could prevent it from paying its bills.

In corporate news, Chicago-based sandwich chain Potbelly will start trading on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange as part of its $105 million initial public offering. Potbelly will trade under the stock ticker “PBPB.”

Railroad company CSX fell 52 cents, or 2 percent, to $25.15 after an analyst cut his rating on the stock, uncertainty over demand for coal.

 

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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