AP News

Futures weighed down by shutdown of US government


NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures fell Thursday as the partial shutdown of the U.S. government lurched on for the third day.

Dow Jones industrial futures slid 22 points to 15,003. S&P futures lost 2.9 points to 1,680.20. Nasdaq futures fell 2.5 points to 3,235.

While the shutdown itself is estimated to trim only about 0.2 percent from the gross domestic product each week, that could grow worse if the impasse begins to erode consumer and business confidence.

That was essentially the message from the National Retail Federation, which releases its sales forecast for the next two months on Thursday.

The NRF is expected to project that sales in November and December will rise 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion. That's above the 3.5 percent increase a year ago and the 10-year average in holiday sales growth of 3.3 percent.

But Matthew Shay, the group's president and CEO, said the calculations were made before the shutdown.

"What we are trying to balance here is the underlying fundamentals with the economy, which seem strong, against all that consumer unease and the uncertainty coming from Washington," Shay said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose by only 1,000 last week.

However, the less volatile four-week average for applications fell to 305,000. That's the lowest since May 2007, seven months before the recession began.

Later Thursday, the Institute for Supply Management reports on growth at U.S. services firms in September. Economists believe that the index declined to 57.5 in September, according to a survey by FactSet.

That would be down from an eight-year high of 58.6 in August. Any reading above 50 indicates growth. The ISM is a trade group of purchasing managers.


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