US STOCKS-Futures point to slight gains at the open

Reuters

* Shutdown enters fourth day, investors watch debt ceiling

* Dow, S&P 500 on track for second straight week of losses

* Adobe Systems down; hackers stole source code, client data

* Futures up: Dow 6 pts, S&P 500 2.7 pts, Nasdaq 4.75 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Oct 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointedto a slightly higher open on Friday, though the uncertainoutcome of a partial U.S. government shutdown continued to worryinvestors.

The S&P 500 has fallen for nine of the past 11sessions, with the losses driven by a budget stalemate inCongress that has closed the government since midnight Monday.

The shutdown, which is now in its fourth day, appearedlikely to drag on for another week or more, with little sign ofprogress towards a solution. Investors are also watching thesituation for how the upcoming debate over the debt ceilingmight play out.

While a short-term closure was expected to have a modesteconomic impact, the effect is expected to become morepronounced the longer it lasts.

Dennis Lockhart, president of the Federal Reserve Bank ofAtlanta, said the shutdown would hurt growth in the last quarterof this year, while the Bank of Japan warned that a prolongedbudget standoff would have a severe global impact.

"We're oversold, but is this a bounce with some muscle, orjust a feeble move? This isn't a sign of health; a resolutionwould give us a strong bounce," said Adam Sarhan, chiefexecutive of Sarhan Capital in New York. "Every day the shutdowncontinues, it reduces the chances of a strong fourth-quarterearnings season."

The debt ceiling issue is considered more severe, as itcould result in a default on U.S. debt if no resolution isreached to increase it. On Thursday, the New York Times reportedthat House Speaker John Boehner told colleagues he would not letthe United States default on its debt.

S&P 500 futures rose 2.7 points and were slightlyabove fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by takinginto account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration onthe contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added6 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 4.75 points.

While shutdown concerns have pressured equities over thepast two weeks, the S&P 500 index has frequently foundsupport at its 50-day moving average of 1,679.84, though itclosed slightly below that level on Thursday.

For the week, the Dow is down 1.7 percent and the S&P hasslipped 0.8 percent for a second week of losses for bothindexes, while the Nasdaq has shed 0.2 percent.

The CBOE Volatility Index, a measure of investoranxiety, jumped as high as 18.71 on Thursday, its highest sincelate June. The VIX had jumped 160 percent to 42.96 in the thirdquarter of 2011 as the S&P 500 index fell 14 percent, thebiggest retreat since 2008.

Government economic data has been delayed because of theshutdown, and the September payroll report was not released asscheduled. About 180,000 jobs were expected to have been addedin September, up from 169,000 added in the previous month.

"Not getting key economic data really disrupts a normalinvestment process. When you remove a key piece of data, itbecomes very difficult to navigate an already difficultenvironment," Sarhan said.

Adobe Systems Inc shares fell 2.1 percent to $49.79in premarket trading. On Thursday, the company said hackers hadstolen source code to some of its most popular software as wellas the confidential information of millions of its customers.

Twitter Inc gave potential investors their first glance atits financials on Thursday when it publicly filed documents foran initial public offering. The information showed that revenueat the social networking company almost tripled in 2012, thoughit posted a loss in the first half of 2013.

Potbelly Corp said late Thursday its initial public offeringof 7.5 million shares had priced at $14 each.

Union Pacific Corp gave a third-quarter earningsoutlook late Thursday that was below expectations, as floodingin Colorado weighed on coal shipments.

View Comments (0)