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Stocks inch higher amid deadlock

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Stocks are inching higher today, trying to hold support, as the United States government enters its fourth day of shutdown.

S&P 500 futures rose by less than one-tenth of a percent. European bourses are mostly higher, led by Italy, Spain and France. Asia was mixed in the overnight session, with Japan's Nikkei down almost 1 percent and mainland Chinese shares up almost 1 percent.

The S&P 500 has declined in nine of the last 11 sessions and is now trying to hold its 50-day moving average. The index fought its way back from a decline of more than 1 percent yesterday after bouncing at 1670, which Guy Adami identified as key support on Wednesday's Market Action webinar .

The pullback comes as politicians in Washington remain at loggerheads over funding the government. Republicans in the House of Representatives want to delay implementation of the Obamacare health-care law, which has been rejected by the Senate. The big concern is that continued deadlock will prevent lawmakers from raising the country's debt ceiling later this month, creating the risk of a potential default on payments.

Under normal circumstances, the Labor Department would release non-farm payrolls for September at 8:30 a.m. ET today, but that report has been delayed. Aside from events on Capitol Hill, next big items on the calendar are likely to be earnings as companies begin release quarterly results next week.

Despite weakness in the broader market, overall price action has remained somewhat bullish as investors focus on strength in the broader economy. Domestic energy companies -- especially high-risk wildcatters and shale players -- car-rental stocks and motor-home makers have all outperformed, according to our researchLAB market scanner . Solars, light-emitting diodes and hospital operators have also stood out. Transports and small caps, usually considered more aggressive, have been stronger than the broader market as well.

Commodities are painting a modestly bullish picture, with oil up by almost half a percent and copper turning green after erasing losses earlier. Gold and silver, viewed as a hedge against crisis in Washington, are down slightly, and most agricultural products are posting small gains.

Currencies are mildly bearish, with the euro down fractionally and the safe-haven Japanese yen higher across the board.

In company-specific news, Union Pacific is down about 1 percent after preannouncing weak earnings for the third quarter. Forest Oil rose 8 percent after saying it would divest $1 billion of assets. Facebook and Tesla Motors are also rebounding about 1.5 percent today after the high-flying stocks pulled back in recent sessions.

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